From the late 90’s to his untimely passing, Steve Jobs has been known as two things – the guy behind one of the most innovative companies of all time, Apple, and the guy in sneakers, jeans and a black mock turtleneck. Granted, the former made him an immortal icon in the tech industry. But it’s the later which showcased his philosophy of personal branding and prioritizing, and became a large part of what made Jobs a cultural icon.
Jobs wasn’t the first person who sought consistency in his public outings to the point that he would always be seen wearing exactly the same thing. Albert Einstein always wore a gray suit. Johnny Cash was always dressed in black. Mark Zuckerberg’s casual style revolves around jeans and gray t-shirts. People are known to adopt certain styles, or even certain items of clothing, as if they were uniforms, and use them to either remove the daily drag of deciding what to wear, or to become highly recognizable by their clothing choices.
This is, however, the exact opposite of what fashion and trends seem to be doing. Promoting the constant change by releasing different clothing in seasons, and then building trends around them, the constant change of fashion could, at best, fit into a single style, although this isn’t always a case within the same brand. As it’s often said that style and trends don’t always go hand in hand, what Jobs and people like him did way develop a personal style to its natural extreme, where style becomes a single combination of clothing. And it wouldn’t work well for everyone.
Einstein, Jobs, Cash and Zuckerberg could afford this kind of restriction for themselves because the body of work they performed touched people’s lives in a very profound way. They themselves don’t have to show how they evolve by a change of their clothes because the products of their work showcase their personal evolution, and it’s the clothes that are there to provide the link between all the different phases in their work. They are there to ground everything in a single recognizable image.
Another message that is conveyed by this kind of unusual fashion choice of always wearing the same is that the person who is doing it has more important things to think of. If clothes are a way of expressing ourselves, Jobs’ clothes said about him that he was more interested in developing Apple products than being distracted by things like choosing what to wear. It is a testament of focus very driven persons have and is as such a representation of their personality. Just as someone would have Verdict products because they fit into their lifestyle, others could chose an uniform for themselves because that is what represents what matters to them the most –their body of work. If viewed like that, Jobs’ influence on the world of fashion, or lack thereof, would be in the fact that his choices clearly depicted a person who isn’t guided by any trend that comes from the outside, but only by the things he carries on the inside, which were in his case related to creation, efficiency and progress.