Issey Miyake's Turtleneck: How It Became Steve Jobs' Signature Look

Issey Miyake, a celebrated Japanese fashion designer, died of cancer at age 84 on August 5, according to a Tuesday report from the Associated Press.

Miyake created one of Japan's largest fashion brands, and his contributions to fashion since rising to fame in the 1970s include the famous bao bao tote bag and revolutionizing pleated pants. However, he will also be remembered by many as the man behind the black turtlenecks that became the signature look of former Apple CEO Steve Jobs.

Though Miyake used computer technology to design some of his apparel, his creations were known for having a sensible, no-nonsense style that was meant to appeal to wearers of any age or size. As such, it makes sense why Jobs, whose products are known for sleek yet simple aesthetics, would be drawn to Miyake's work. But he actually took to the designer's style while visiting another tech company.

Issey Miyake speaks to the press
Celebrated Japanese designer Issey Miyake passed away last week, according to a Tuesday report. Here, Miyake is seen during a press conference for the Miyake Issey Exhibition at the National Art Center in Tokyo on March 15, 2016. Photo credit should read TORU YAMANAKA/AFP via Getty Image

Before his death in 2011, Jobs told his biographer, Walter Isaacson, that he first came to Miyake after noticing the uniforms he designed for Sony employees in Japan. Jobs said Sony's chairman Akio Morita told him the employees felt bonded by wearing the matching clothes, and Jobs brought the idea to Apple. He even hired Miyake to design the concept for Apple. However, he said the idea of wearing Miyake-made vests was met with boos when he brought the plan to Apple.

He had become friends with Miyake in the process, though, and he requested the designer design him his own personal uniform that would be both convenient and reflect a signature style.

"So I asked Issey to make me some of his black turtlenecks that I liked, and he made me like a hundred of them." Jobs said according to Isaacson's 2011 book Steve Jobs. "I have enough to last for the rest of my life."

Jobs was by far not the only famous fan Miyake had. Grammy-winning singer Jody Watley called Miyake "an incredible visionary cutting edge designer" on Twitter and shared pictures of his designs she wore in a music video and on a cover for a music single. Meanwhile, actress Rosario Dawson simply wrote, "Rest In Power Issey Miyake."

Miyake was also eulogized by Italian designer Giorgio Armani, one of his contemporaries in the fashion world.

"I learned with great sadness of the passing of Issey Miyake: an authentic innovator, able like few others to move between East and West, past and future," Armani said in a statement. "His stubbornness in putting the person and his or her needs at the center, instead of communication or creativity for the sake of creativity, is an important lesson for everyone, today more than ever. It certainly is for me, as I lose a kindred spirit."

When contacted by Newsweek for comment, the Miyake Design Studio and the Issey Miyake Group shared a statement about Miyake's passing.

"Always a pioneer, Miyake both embraced traditional handcrafts but also looked to the next solution: the newest technology driven by research and development. He never once stepped back from his love, the process of making things," the statement read in part. "His spirit of joy, empowerment and beauty will be carried on by the next generations."

Update 08/10/22 11:30 a.m. ET: This story has been updated to include portions of a joint statement from the Miyake Design Studio and the Issey Miyake Group.