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Steve Jobs' black turtleneck reportedly explained in biography

October 11, 2011 |  6:39 pm

Steve Jobs tribute

Steve Jobs is known for many things -- the Apple II, the Macintosh, Pixar, the iMac, iTunes, iPod, iPhone and iPad.

He is also known for his signature black turtleneck, Levi's jeans and gray New Balance sneakers.

But just how Jobs arrived at that look after wearing neckties, bowties, vests and jeans covered in patches, isn't as known.

That will change, however, with the release of Walter Isaacson's highly anticipated authorized biography on the Apple co-founder, titled simply "Steve Jobs."

The book -- the product of more than two years' worth of interviews with Jobs' family, friends, colleagues and rivals -- includes details on how Jobs' look came about. That passage on was published Tuesday by the website Gawker in an excerpt from Isaacson's book.

The book also includes interviews that took place just weeks before Jobs' death Oct. 5.

From Issacson's book, as reported by Gawker:

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.

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 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."

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."

Isaacson's biography on Jobs arrives in stores Oct. 24.

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-- Nathan Olivarez-Giles

twitter.com/nateog

Photo: Flowers, apples and notes paying tribute to Steve Jobs were placed outside of an Apple store in Chicago on Oct. 6, 2011, a day after Jobs died at the age of 56. Credit: Nam Y. Huh / Associated Press

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