Steve Jobs tried to get Apple employees to wear uniforms, ended up with one of his own

According to an excerpt from Walter Isaacson’s forthcoming biography of the Apple co-founder Steve Jobs published by Gawker, at one point, Jobs looked to create a uniform for Apple employees after visiting Sony, whose company uniforms were designed by Japanese fashion designer Issey Miyake.

“So Jobs called Issey Miyake and asked him to design a vest for Apple, Jobs recalled, “I came back with some samples and told everyone it would great if we would all wear these vests. Oh man, did I get booed off the stage. Everybody hated the idea.”

So, Jobs ended up with a uniform of his own:

In the process, however, he became friends with Miyake and would visit him regularly. He also came to like the idea of having a uniform for himself, both because of its daily convenience (the rationale he claimed) and its ability to convey a signature style. “So I asked Issey to make me some of his black turtlenecks that I liked, and he made me like a hundred of them.” Jobs noticed my surprise when he told this story, so he showed them stacked up in the closet. “That’s what I wear,” he said. “I have enough to last for the rest of my life.”

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Wearing the same thing every day means one less meaningless daily distraction. (Note to our turret lookouts: Keep an eye out for fashionistas bearing torches and pitchforks.)

MacDailyNews Note: From the author of the bestselling biographies of Benjamin Franklin and Albert Einstein, this is the exclusive biography of Steve Jobs.

Based on more than forty interviews with Jobs conducted over two years—as well as interviews with more than a hundred family members, friends, adversaries, competitors, and colleagues—Walter Isaacson has written a riveting story of the roller-coaster life and searingly intense personality of a creative entrepreneur whose passion for perfection and ferocious drive revolutionized six industries: personal computers, animated movies, music, phones, tablet computing, and digital publishing.

At a time when America is seeking ways to sustain its innovative edge, and when societies around the world are trying to build digital-age economies, Jobs stands as the ultimate icon of inventiveness and applied imagination. He knew that the best way to create value in the twenty-first century was to connect creativity with technology. He built a company where leaps of the imagination were combined with remarkable feats of engineering.

Although Jobs cooperated with this book, he asked for no control over what was written nor even the right to read it before it was published. He put nothing off-limits. He encouraged the people he knew to speak honestly. And Jobs speaks candidly, sometimes brutally so, about the people he worked with and competed against. His friends, foes, and colleagues provide an unvarnished view of the passions, perfectionism, obsessions, artistry, devilry, and compulsion for control that shaped his approach to business and the innovative products that resulted.

Driven by demons, Jobs could drive those around him to fury and despair. But his personality and products were interrelated, just as Apple’s hardware and software tended to be, as if part of an integrated system. His tale is instructive and cautionary, filled with lessons about innovation, character, leadership, and values.

Pre-order for US$16.99 via Apple’s iBookstore, expected release date Nov. 21, 2011: Steve Jobs – Walter Isaacson

Related articles:
Simon & Schuster ups Steve Jobs biography to October 24th – October 6, 2011


  1. I hope one ends up in the Smithsonian National Museum of American History next to things like Archie Bunker’s chair, Fonzie’s jacket, and Dorothy’s Ruby Red Slippers. It’s truly an American icon.

  2. Good stuff, I’m buying the book on day one. And I’ll probably finish reading the next day. But I’ll do it on my Kindle. Much as I want iBookstore to succeed, I cannot read 400+ pages on iPhone/iPad.

  3. “I have enough to last for the rest of my life.”

    So, what was that article on MDN last week where some haberdasher in the Midwest was saying there’s been a run on $175 mock turtlenecks, and that Steve bought a dozen a year?

    As far as Steve’s uni, it occurred to me that I often wore a black cotton turtleneck with Levis and running shoes back in college in the early 80s, before Steve did. I also wore a white cotton turtleneck as well.

    Now my turtlenecks are the synthetic types that you wear for outdoor sports.

    1. “I often wore a black cotton turtleneck with Levis and running shoes back in college in the early 80s, before Steve did. I also wore a white cotton turtleneck as well”

      Aha, but did you stand in front of a huge black/grey gradient Keynote presentation, thusly hued so as to match your attire, and not muck up the press shots?

      Steve Jobs: CFG


      1. The earliest Jobs’ photo with the turtleneck comes from 1990, and, very probably, original use of this clothes back to 1980s.

        So whether someone wore it “before Steve did” is highly questionable.

          1. Yeah, sorry to be so tongue in cheek there, I was suggesting that Steve intentionally matched his theme of the Keynote slides to his wardrobe so he would highlight the product perfectly during big launches (yes I understand it’s a Black/grey gradient, not a Black/denim one hehe).

            Can you imagine how bizarre and distracting it would look if we walked out in a business suit? Those black on black photos are just classic.


  4. Supposedly there is some steve university left behind to train apple executives… anyone else hear that?

    I hope it gets leaked/released- I’d love to consume it.

  5. The Japanese have a different type of society due to all those years in isolation and citizens are taught to conform to society from very young. America, the melting pot? Forget it. It’s everyone must do their own thing. Uniforms for American workers in private industry, hell, no.

    1. I’m not sure I would classify Apple Store employee attire as a uniform. The definition of a uniform is basically everyone wearing the same thing. A t-shirt in multiple colors with whatever pants, jeans, or shorts and whatever kind of tennis shoes, sandals, flip flops you want to wear is not really a uniform. I haven’t been to multiple Apple stores as some here, but the couple I have been to everyone seems to wear pretty much whatever they want. About the only thing that seems to separate them from the customers is that they are wearing an Apple t-shirt and an Apple badge and ask folks if they need help as they wonder around the store.

  6. Thankfully the uniform policy never took off.

    Id honestly wonder about a place that claimed creativity and had a uniform. Lol those two princepals just don’t jive

  7. Stanley Kubrick, another well-known perfectionist, also wore the same thing every day during shooting of his films. He is quoted as saying that it relieved him of the task of having to always figure out what he was going to wear. Great minds I guess.

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