Issey Miyake, Designer of Steve Jobs Turtleneck and Unused Apple Corporate Uniform, Dies Aged 84
Japanese fashion designer Issey Miyake, known for designing Steve Jobs' iconic black mock turtleneck sweater and an unused Apple employee uniform, has died at the age of 84, his company has announced (via Reuters).
Born in Hiroshima in 1938, Miyake built a prolific global high fashion brand and developed a unique relationship with late Apple co-founder and CEO Steve Jobs. According to biographer Walter Isaacson, Jobs was impressed by Sony's corporate uniform, something the company had imposed since 1946 to encourage a professional look and forge a bond with colleagues.
In 1981, for its 35th anniversary, Sony commissioned Miyake to design a jacket to add to the uniform. The futuristic taupe rip-stop nylon jacket featured unzip-able sleeves that allowed it to convert into a vest and had no lapels.
Jobs apparently admired Miyake's jacket for Sony and asked him to design a similar vest for Apple employees. Miyake's jacket for Apple hit a stumbling block when Jobs returned with samples and pitched the idea of an Apple corporate uniform to employees in Cupertino, California. "Oh, man, did I get booed off the stage," Jobs told Isaacson. "Everybody hated the idea."
Jobs went on to opt for a uniform for himself to reduce decision fatigue and form a visual identity, deciding upon Levi's 501 jeans and New Balance 991 sneakers. He asked Miyake to supply him with a large number of black turtleneck sweaters, on sale from Issey Miyake Inc. at the time for $175. "He made me like a hundred of them," Jobs told Isaacson, adding, "I have enough to last for the rest of my life."
Sales of the black mock turtleneck spiked after Jobs' death in 2011 before it was retired from the fashion brand's clothing line in 2017. A revised version of the sweater returned later that year for $270.
Miyake died of liver cancer on Friday and a private funeral has reportedly already taken place.