The Washington Post

Steve Jobs’s style: New turtleneck details revealed

Apple CEO Steve Jobs holds up the new MacBook Air, dressed in his signature black turtleneck. (Jeff Chiu/AP)

It wasn’t just any turtleneck: Jobs preferred $175 St. Croix cotton and microfiber mock black turtlenecks. According to Bernhard Brenner, the founder of Knitcraft, St. Croix’s parent company, Jobs bought about two dozen black turtlenecks each year. The day he died, sales of the turtlenecks doubled overnight, reports the Minneapolis St. Paul Business Journal. Knitcraft has been donating $20 to the American Cancer Society for each turtleneck sold.

But for anyone hoping to pull together an authentic Steve Jobs Halloween costume or the more than 1,000 people who have Facebook-RSVPed for Black Turtleneck Friday, a tribute to Jobs’s attire taking place on Oct. 14, St. Croix has bad news for you: They’re out of the black turtlenecks, for now. They’re still accepting orders, but they will not be shipped until Oct. 28. You’ll have to cobble together your Steve Jobs look with the help of one of the many other purveyors of fine turtlenecks, instead. Here are a few, for any budget:

Bottega Veneta cashmere turtleneck, through Barneys, $950

Ralph Lauren Black Label wool-cashmere rib turtleneck, $650.

J. Crew cashmere turtleneck sweater, $198.

John Ashford long sleeve interlock turtleneck, through Macy’s, $34.50

L.L. Bean mock turtleneck, $19.95

Lands’ End 100% cotton mock turtleneck, $17.50.

What, other than simplicity, attracted Jobs to his consistent look? Turns out, it was inspired by the uniforms of factory workers in postwar Japan, and influenced by a high fashion designer. According to biographer Walter Isaacson:

On a trip to Japan in the early 1980s, Jobs asked Sony’s chairman Akio Morita why everyone in the company’s factories wore uniforms. He told Jobs that after the war, no one had any clothes, and companies like Sony had to give their workers something to wear each day. Over the years, the uniforms developed their own signatures styles, especially at companies such as Sony, and it became a way of bonding workers to the company. “I decided that I wanted that type of bonding for Apple,” Jobs recalled.

So, he asked Issey Miyake to design a uniform — a nylon jacket with detachable sleeves. It was universally hated by the company, and he was booed off the stage. Though the vest didn’t become an Apple wardrobe staple, Jobs developed a friendship with Miyake, who gave him “like a hundred” of them — and a signature style was born.

| GALLERY: Click the image to view photos of Steve Jobs.

Maura Judkis covers culture, food, and the arts for the Weekend section and Going Out Guide.


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