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The story behind Steve Jobs's black turtleneck

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Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP/File

(Read caption) In this 2004 file photo, Apple CEO Steve Jobs displays the iPod mini at the Macworld Conference and Expo in San Francisco – and his signature black mock turtleneck. The story of how the late Mr. Jobs came to pick that particular style is part of a new official biography about him, due out in two weeks. Excerpts of the book were released this week.

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In the early days, it was a necktie and vest. Later (during the 1984 unveiling of the iconic Macintosh computer, for example) it was a bow tie and button-down shirt. But without a doubt, Steve Jobs’s most iconic look has been his black mock turtleneck, Levi’s 501 jeans, and New Balance sneakers. He sported that outfit for more than a decade, since shortly after he returned to Apple in 1998 as interim chief executive officer, until his final “Stevenote” address in June 2011, where he unveiled iOS 5 and iCloud.

So where’d his look come from?

According to Walter Isaacson, Jobs's official biographer, it all started when Jobs visited Japan in the early '80s. Isaacson's book, simply titled "Steve Jobs," won't hit shelves until Oct. 24, but Gawker has released an excerpt ahead of time that details how Jobs's iconic look came to be.

On his visit to Japan, Jobs met Akio Morita, the chairman of Sony. At the time, everyone in Sony’s factories wore uniforms, and Morita told Jobs the practice had begun “after the war, [when] no one had any clothes, and companies like Sony had to give their workers something to wear each day.” Then, over the years, the uniforms became a way for workers to bond with the company and to express the company’s style.


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