Japanese fashion designer Issey Miyake, known for designing Steve Jobs’ iconic black turtleneck sweater and an unused Apple employee uniform, has died at the age of 84, his company announced (via Reuters).
Born in Hiroshima in 1938, Miyake built a prolific global high fashion brand and developed a unique relationship with the late Apple co-founder and CEO Steve Jobs. According to biographer Walter Isaacson, Jobs was impressed with Sony’s corporate uniform, something the company had enforced since 1946 to encourage a professional look and forge a bond with colleagues.
In 1981, for his 35th birthday, Sony commissioned Miyake to design a jacket to add to the uniform. The futuristic taupe ripstop nylon jacket featured zip-off 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 jacket 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, was I booed off the stage,” Jobs told Isaacson. “Everyone hated the idea.”
Jobs then opted for a uniform for himself to reduce decision fatigue and form a visual identity, opting for Levi’s 501 jeans and New Balance 991 sneakers. He asked Miyake to provide him with a large number of black turtleneck sweaters, on sale at Issey Miyake Inc. at the time for $175. “He made me love a hundred of them,” Jobs told Isaacson, adding, “I’ve got enough to last the rest of my life.”
Sales of the faux black turtleneck skyrocketed after Jobs died in 2011 before it was dropped from the fashion label’s clothing line in 2017. A revised version of the sweater returned later that year- there for $270.
Miyake died of liver cancer on Friday and a private funeral has reportedly already taken place.