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Posts tagged uniform
What puzzled me most about Steve Jobs was the personal uniform he adopted in mid-life: black mock turtleneck, faded Levi’s, and white running shoes. How could someone so savvy about product design feel comfortable in such sad, suburban duds? In an interview with a biographer that was released after his death, Jobs revealed that those sweaters, which I had assumed were from Land’s End, LLBean or some such fuddy-duddy purveyor, were custom-made for him by Japanese designer Issey Miyake.
After visiting a Sony factory in the 80’s and seeing the black uniforms Miyake had designed for the workers there, Jobs commissioned Miyake to design a nylon jacket with zip-out sleeves for Apple employees. Miyake sent Jobs several prototypes, but by then the whole notion of a uniform had been rejected by Apple leadership. But Jobs went ahead and implemented his own personal uniform, and asked Miyake to whip up scores of these simple, anonymous-looking sweaters. Apparently he had over 60 of them when he died. Why didn’t he commission a sweater that was amazing-looking and better-fitted, or ask Miyake to design his jeans and sneakers too? It’s puzzling and also humanizing. Hitherto the only really personal things I knew about Jobs (gleaned from this breezy, trashy, out-of-date biography) was that he had once dated Joan Baez, and that his favorite meal was a bowl of shredded carrots. The story about the uniforms reminds us that all of Jobs’ ideas were not great ideas, and that he wasn’t consumed by good taste.