Five surprising facts from the new Steve Jobs biography

2. The story behind the black turtlenecks

  • close
    Apple CEO Steve Jobs presents in his iconic black turtleneck.
    Paul Sakuma/AP/FILE
    View Caption
  • About video ads
    View Caption

Steve Jobs always understood the value of branding – the iconic Apple logo, the strong yet simple gadget designs, and, of course, the black turtlenecks.

Isaacson traced the sartorial tale back to the early 1980s, when Jobs visited a Sony factory in Japan. Everyone in Sony's factories wore uniforms, a practice that began “after the war, [when] no one had any clothes, and companies like Sony had to give their workers something to wear each day.” Soon, uniforms become a symbol of each workers' connection to his company.

"Sony, with its appreciation for style, had gotten the famous designer Issey Miyake to create its uniform. It was a jacket made of rip-stop nylon with sleeves that could unzip to make it a vest. So Jobs called Miyake and asked him to design a vest for Apple, Jobs recalled, 'I came back with some samples and told everyone it would [be] great if we would all wear these vests. Oh man, did I get booed off the stage. Everybody hated the idea.' "

Jobs abandoned the program. But he still liked the idea.

Wearing the same thing everyday has the “ability to convey a signature style.” So, Jobs turned to Miyake, who has already designed a black turtleneck. Jobs ordered “like a hundred.”

2 of 5