During the early 1980s when Apple was still a young & dynamic startup company, Steve Jobs visited Japan to meet Sony’s chairman Akio Morita for business purpose. As typical it was with Steve, he made random visits to several departments of Sony to get a feel of their work culture and environment and was surprised to find that everyone in the company wore uniforms.
When Steve enquired about this with Morita, he was told that after World War II, most of the employees of Sony did not have any clothes to wear due to which Sony had to provide uniforms to all of them. Over time, the uniforms underwent changes in design & refinement, and although employees were able to afford better clothes for themselves, they still stuck on to the uniforms because it became a way of bonding all of them in the company.
That was when Steve made up his mind to implement something similar in Apple as well to nurture employees and create a bonding. He got in touch with the designer named Miyake who had designed uniforms for Sony and requested him to come up with sample designs of vests for Apple employees. When Steve returned to Apple Office with the samples and announced his intention of implementing uniforms, he was booed off the stage as it was hated by everybody in his company due to which he had to drop the idea.
But the idea had stuck to him and he wanted a uniform for himself, if not for his employees. He requested Miyake to design a uniform for daily usage which could convey his signature style of simplicity and in return he got hundreds of black turtlenecks which he started using as his 24/7 attire.
Just a few months before his death, Steve, during an interview with Walter Isaacson (his authorized biographer) showed his closet which was filled with hundreds of turtlenecks and had said “That’s what I wear. I have enough to last for the rest of my life.”
That’s how the turtleneck became Steve Jobs’ signature attire.
Here are few more such curious “Why” questions and interesting answers:
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