Apple Inc. (AAPL) co-founder Steve Jobs' iconic black turtleneck sweater will be available for sale starting this July. According to a Bloomberg report, Issey Miyake Inc., the design company behind the sweater, plans to make it available for a retail price of $270 starting next month. The sweater is 60% polyester and 40% cotton.
The Bloomberg report quotes a costume historian as saying that the sweater indicates "the kind of freedom from sartorial convention demanded by deep thought." Indeed, one of the theories relating to Jobs' fondness for black turtleneck sweaters (he was estimated to have approximately 100 in his wardrobe) relates that he wanted to be rid of the headache of selecting a new outfit every day and focus instead on his products. (See also: Steve Jobs: Early Life and Education.)
But reality is much more prosaic. According to Walter Isaacson's definitive biography, Jobs elected to wear a uniform after visiting the headquarters of Sony Corporation (SNE) in Japan. Then Sony President Akio Morita told Jobs that a uniform helped save money and created a bond between workers. Apple employees did not warm up to Jobs' idea, however, when he proposed a similar practice back in America. But Jobs, ever the lone ranger, took to wearing a uniform to work every day. Issey Miyake stopped production of the sweater after Jobs' death in 2011.
Over the years, entrepreneurs aspiring to become the next Steve Jobs have latched onto the black sweater as a signal of their intentions. But their efforts have not always been successful. For example, Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes wore a black turtleneck sweater to work daily. But even that could not stop her company from going under. (See also: Theranos Saga Continues, Closes Last Blood Lab.)
While he does not wear a black turtleneck, Facebook, Inc. (FB) founder Mark Zuckerberg also has a uniform. He wears hoodies and gray t-shirts to work. "I really want to clear my life to make it so that I have to make as few decisions as possible about anything except how to best serve this community," he said in an interview, adding that he did not want to "spend any of my energy on things that are silly or frivolous about my life." The apparel market seems to share Zuckerberg's assessment of "silly" and "frivolous" clothing. While Jobs' turtleneck sweater is priced for an audience that is willing to pay for quality products, imitations of Zuckerberg's gray t-shirts sell for $24 a pop. (See also: 5 Entrepreneurs Who Became Rich While Still in School.)