It’s all thanks to famous Japanese designer Issey Miyake. When Steve Jobs visited Sony in the ’80s, he asked the CEO why everyone wore uniforms. Turned out it was because after World War II, no one had any clothes, and companies had to provide clothing to employees. The uniforms—which included ripstop nylon jackets with removable arms—evolved into a sort of comaraderie and way of feeling part of the company. Jobs thought this sounded like a great bonding idea, so he had Mr. Miyake make him some samples for his Apple employees. They were not a hit:
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.
But he still liked the idea of having a uniform for himself, and after a chat with Miyake, the designer made like 100 for Jobs. “That’s what I wear,” he said. “I have enough to last for the rest of my life.”
Having a personal uniform seems a rather Lifehacker-y and/or geeky approach to dressing. When I interviewed Chris Sacca of Lowercase Capital for this story, he told me he rotates uniforms. His previous choice was
(if I remember correctly) fleeces over t-shirts (I did not remember correctly) zip-neck wool sweaters over T-shirts, jeans, and Salomon sneakers. In 2009, as you can see from the photo, it was Western shirts and jeans, and it still is! (I’ll keep you posted if I hear back on his current sartorial preference). Do you guys know of any other geeky types who go for uniforms?
Update: Turns out my assumption was correct. Wearing a uniform is an efficiency measure. Sacca responded via Tweet saying, “my embrace of a uniform was inspired by Steve and Dean Kamen. Clothing ends up being one fewer distraction.”
Funny, one person’s distraction is another’s livlihood. I do love that Sacca chose something as interesting as the Western shirt as part of his uniform. It’s the type of garment I wouldn’t mind seeing on a dude every day.
Gawker’s turtleneck info comes from Walter Isaacson’s book “Steve Jobs.”