Apple CEO Tim Cook desperately needs a fashion makeover

“Is it time for Tim Cook to tuck in his shirt?” Vanessa Friedman writes for The New York Times. “Every time I see the Apple chief executive take the stage, as he probably will on Thursday at yet another exciting new product introduction, I can’t help wondering.”

“Much has been made, after all, of Apple’s recent cozying up to the fashion world: its supersecret unveiling of its watch to a few carefully chosen magazine editors last month; said watch’s introduction during New York Fashion Week; the pop-up display and dinners held in its honor during Paris Fashion Week; and its starring appearance on the cover of China Vogue’s November issue, attractively accessorized with a Céline dress and the model Liu Wen,” Friedman writes. “But as we enter the age of the wearable, might it not behoove the leader of such a brand to look the part? This is not a flippant question.”

“Unlike Mr. Jobs, whose look referenced a specific design language (Issey Miyake cool), Mr. Cook has a style that is more like the fashion of no fashion, to borrow an idea from George W. S. Trow. For a company that clearly wants to influence fashion, that is a confusing message to send,” Friedman writes. “t is true that Mr. Cook does seem to have developed a signature personal style… To wit: a large, slightly wrinkled, untucked button-down shirt. Though the color may change (the shirt has appeared in varying shades of black, blue and even lavender), the form remains the same.”

Apple CEO Tim Cook
Apple CEO Tim Cook
“As tech gets more and more into fashion, as wearables become the Next Big Thing, perhaps it is the moment to reconsider ye olde assumptions. And should not Mr. Cook take the lead? If Apple really wants to own the wearable space, should he not be the chief executive who breaks the stereotype? Is there not real opportunity to seize the high(er) ground here and change an antiquated culture?” Friedman writes. “Certainly, Jonathan Ive, the co-creator of the Apple watch, is not afraid to discuss his style evolution. In Paris to introduce his product, he was happily showing off a denim suit jacket made by his regular tailor, whom he called ‘Tom the tailor,’ who does all of Mr. Ive’s tailoring. Tom, Mr. Ive said, used to work at the Savile Row name Anderson & Sheppard before moving out to the Lake District, and now the two collaborate on Mr. Ive’s wardrobe.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Tim is no Marissa Mayer, that’s for sure.

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  1. I think he dresses just fine, which is in line with his company’s dress code. The focus is on the product. Jony is a fashionista by nature, which fits in with his Apple role and personality.

  2. Steve Jobs did not give a shit about fashion with clothes. He wore the same damn shirt most the time. He liked how it felt, not how it looked. It was simple and thats all he cared about. And it looks like Cook carries the same philosophy from what I have seen. Fashion clothing is a joke. It doesn’t say anything about your products. Your mind is what creates products and your hands…and than some computers here and there. So for this guy to write that Tim Cook needs to think about his fashion just means take your mind off the important stuff….

      1. That said, Tim could still dress a little more like an adult. He’s not in his 20s. As has been stated, it’s about the products so dressing like an adult wouldn’t be a distraction. At least he’s not wearing your pork pie hat and growing a beard like a hipster. Not yet.

        1. I would argue Tim’s attire makes him relatable to Apple consumers. He looks like a real person you could have a beer or coffee with. Wearing a suit he would come across as I am better than you. At this point you need to realize this is Tim’s look just as Steve has his look. No reason to change it now for the sake of change.

        2. Steve, do you know what Tim looks like? The CEO of the largest publicly traded company on earth, with a chain of the highest per square foot sales of any retail store on the planet, a small set of products which have people identifying with the brand and waiting in line for days, sales records being smashed with every new release, and competitors in every industry they compete in wishing their good days looked half as good as your bad days.

          Apple drives other businesses out of business with small sub-features of their main products.

          I think you have it wrong. Other CEOs should think about copying Tim Cook.

    1. In case you have not noticed, ties are pretty much obsolete or, at least, extremely optional. In the civilized world, it began with Prince Claus of The Netherlands who in 1998, at an official function with Queen Beatrix, ripped off his tie and threw it at her feet, saying “…it is a snake around my neck”. All this was caught on TV. Thus began the movement in Europe to nix ties. It was all very funny — and a lot of people joined in solidarity. Cool. And the dude was 73! However, California had everyone beat by several decades. Blame it on the nerds and geeks. Or at least the counter-culture.


      Dateline: 15 December 1998
      Per the Desert News (but you can do your own web search)

      “AMSTERDAM, Netherlands (AP) — With the simple tug of a tie, a Dutch prince has touched off a revolution in the Netherlands.

      In a speech opening a show of African fashion, Prince Claus ceremoniously wriggled free of his Windsor knot, yanked off his navy blue necktie and tossed it rather inelegantly at the feet of his wife, Queen Beatrix.”A snake around my neck,” the 73-year-old prince snarled to a standing ovation.

      Reporting the story that evening, one TV anchorman peeled off his tie. In solidarity, so did the sportscaster who gave the soccer scores. Now, a week later, Claus is a folk hero, and an open collar has never been more in vogue.

      The phenomenon already has a name: “Claustrophilia,” which celebrates the prince for denouncing ties.

      “I also suffer from Claus’ tie phobia, so I’m shouting for joy at the prince’s call for a ban on neckties,” Wouter van Winden, a businessman in the central city of Delft, said in Monday’s De Volkskrant newspaper.


      1. Dude,
        Look around you again. Businessmen wear ties. Lawyers wear ties, even IT geeks wear ties. They are hardly obsolete. When somebody as old as Cook and in his position tries to look like a 20 year old, it is a major fail. Steve had it down, but on cook, it just looks silly.

        1. trondude,

          I do understand that some men still wear ties. It is remains a uniform for many. But it is nowhere near as many as used to, even a short 15 years ago. The trend is clear. There are entire industries and parts of the world where ties are not worn. It is acceptable on many occasions and in many venues to wear a jacket and shirt (with or without collar) …but no tie. Look around restaurants, theaters, airports, city centers, church services. Look around campuses, offices (when there are no client meetings), look at TV personalities and shows. I would also say the trend is more pronounced among younger people rather than older, and in newer industries rather than “traditional” (stodgy?) ones. The evidence is apparent. The tie is going the way of the 17th century dutch lace collar seen in Vermeer paintings. I often wondered how that happened — that the outdated garb seen in paintings somehow became no longer acceptable. Now I am witnessing it. All The Best.

    1. Who said “stodgy,” Strawman?

      Apple is making a play for fashion. They must participate properly. God knows, Cook has the means to have a staff of stylists on hand to dress him for every occasion. It’d be no extra work for him at all.

      1. Oh come on Princess bloody Kate has all the fashion designers in the World to choose from as did her MiL but it does nothing to stop the tossers picking holes in every detail, its a stupid and dangerous game to play and seriously the fashion sense of the fashinistas and fashion shop owners are the last thing that people in the real world would or should want to copy. A Karl Lagerfeld dummy on stage is the last thing Apple and its subdued taste needs thanks.

      2. Have you ever see fashion designers take a bow at the end of a fashion show? While their fashions designs (and models) may be fabulous, the designers themselves typically look totally frumpy. Nothing distinctive about their dress at all. T-shirts and jeans. And these are people who are making a play for fashion…

  3. Come on there is nothing worse than someone Cooks age and looks trying to be fashionable. ‘Non Fashion’ is perfect it lets the products take the lead while his look is neutral neither trendy which will only gain greater criticism and argument not boring and corporate like the suits in Corporate America and better still not trying the casual awfulness of the blamers of this World who will always look like a Corp suit trying to be casual. Stay as you are Tim or you will cook up a storm just as writers like this are trying to persue.

  4. Steve was fashion conscious when he first came back to Apple, look at some of the product intros. There’s an interview of him talking about how he thought it would be great to have everyone in what he later wore, but he said he brought it up and everyone hated it. He said he then had about a hundred of these things because that’s how many Miyake sent him. I guess he thought he’d give each of the execs a few. He laughs about it in the interview.

  5. This is what passes for a New York Times article these days? THIS?

    I know it’s for their inherently vacuous fashion section, but even then, are you kidding? There must be more interesting things going on in the world of fashion than Tim Cook’s wardrobe.

  6. He’s also doing more of his Fred Schneider impersonation.

    I hope those Apple guys sooner than later get past talking
    in these presentations as though they assumed everyone
    watching were all tech-obsessed dorks. Craig what’s his
    name gets more insufferable with each presentation.
    That security thing with Stephen Colbert (and pointless accompanying film) was painful.

    Phil Schiller is the easiest person to listen to. You could
    say to him “Phil, ditch the magic elves thing this time”
    and he could do it.

  7. The writer needs to gain an understanding of the difference between fashion and style. Fashion is a toy for people with no meaningful way to spend their time or money, and a strong desire to follow. Style is for leaders. Tim is doing just fine.

    1. I thought MDN was vigilant in bringing to our attention yet another example of the resort to fluff and sensationalism of a once great newspaper, which is scrabbling like all the rest to arrest declining circulation, and failing. I think digital is already at 20% of readership and it won’t slow.

      The trouble is that the NY Times, just like the NY Post or the Daily Mail or any of them, faces a wilderness in the internet compared to their former monolithic print subscriber base. The NY Times are learning the click bait model works and are trying to disguise it, but we’re long past believing that their efforts to survive lend any dignity to stories like these, opinion or not.

  8. Tim looks fine.

    The shirt did make me blink a couple of times a few presentations ago, but I also thought it was strange long ago when Steve never wore anything different. These days, that’s just the Apple Way. Cool.

    I would never wear it, dark and untucked, but that’s just me. I like blue and yellow and red shirts.

    But given the dark stage which they use, and considering most of the video coverage is from the waist up, Tim looks informal and professional.

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