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Why Steve Jobs Chose This Designer’s Turtlenecks

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Little wonder, really, that Issey Miyake was Steve Jobs’s favorite designer.

The man behind Mr. Jobs’s personal uniform of black mock turtlenecks, who died on Aug. 5 at age 84, was a pioneer in all sorts of ways — the first foreign designer to show at Paris Fashion Week (in April 1974), among the first designers to collaborate with artists and a proponent of “comfort dressing” long before the term ever existed. But it was his understanding and appreciation of technology and how it could be harnessed to an aesthetic point of view to create new, seductive utilities that set Mr. Miyake apart.

Before there were wearables, before there were connected jackets, before there were 3-D-printed sneakers and laser-cut lace, there was Mr. Miyake, pushing the boundaries of material innovation to bridge past and future. He was the original champion of fashion tech.

It began in 1988 with Mr. Miyake’s research into the heat press, and how it could be used to create garments that started as fabric two or three times larger than normal, which was then pressed between two sheets of paper and fed into an industrial machine that shaped it into knife-edge pleats, which in turn became garments that never wrinkled, fell flat or required any complicated fastenings. By 1994, those garments made up a line of their own known as Pleats Please (later spun into a men’s wear version, Homme Plissé): a re-engineering of the classic Grecian drapes of Mario Fortuny into something both practical and weirdly fun.

So it went: Next came an experiment involving a continuous piece of thread fed into an industrial knitting machine to create one piece of cloth with inbuilt seams that traced different garment shapes — which could in turn be cut out as desired by the wearer, thus eliminating manufacturing detritus. Known as A-POC (a piece of cloth), the collection was introduced in 1997, decades before “zero waste” became a clarion call of the responsible fashion movement.

And then there was 132 5, which Mr. Miyaki debuted in 2010 (after he had stepped back from his day-to-day responsibilities but remained involved with his brand). Inspired by the work of computer scientist Jun Mitani, it comprised flat-pack items in complex origami folds that popped open to create three-dimensional pieces on the body. The collection was developed in conjunction with Mr. Miyaki’s in-house research and development team, founded in 2007 and known as Reality Lab. (The name — not to be confused with Meta’s Reality Labs division, though arguably its forerunner — was later also used for a retail store in Tokyo.)

Pieces from all of these lines are now included in the collections of museums such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, the Victoria & Albert Museum and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. They are extraordinary — soft sculptures that morph and move with the body — but what makes them singular is that they were conceived not just as beautiful things but as solutions to everyday needs (a Miyake basic value was the importance of “clothes for living”). And they functioned as such.

This is where the black turtleneck comes in. It was not by any means Mr. Miyake’s most interesting garment. It may even have been his most banal. But it embodies his founding principles and serves as the door through which anyone not particularly interested in fashion could walk to discover the Miyake universe. Mr. Jobs did just that.

Indeed, it is not incidental that Mr. Jobs’s own exposure to Mr. Miyake came through technology. Or so the late Apple founder, told Walter Isaacson, his biographer.

According to Mr. Isaacson’s book, “Steve Jobs,” Mr. Jobs was fascinated by the uniform jacket Mr. Miyake created for Sony workers in 1981. Made from ripstop nylon with no lapels, it included sleeves that could be unzipped to transform the jacket into a vest. Mr. Jobs liked it and what it stood for (corporate bonding) so much that he asked Mr. Miyake to make a similar style for Apple’s employees — though when he returned to Cupertino with the idea, he was “booed off the stage,” he told Mr. Isaacson.

Still, according to Mr. Isaacson’s book, the two men became friends, and Mr. Jobs would often visit Mr. Miyake, ultimately adopting a Miyake garment — the black mock turtleneck — as a key part of his own uniform. It was a garment that did away with an extraneous fold at the neck, that had the ease of a T-shirt and a sweatshirt but also the cool, minimal lines of a jacket.

Mr. Miyake made him “like a hundred of them,” Mr. Jobs, who wore them until his death in 2011, said in the book. (Mr. Isaacson wrote he saw them stacked in Mr. Jobs’s closet, and the book’s cover features a portrait of Mr. Jobs wearing, natch, a black mock turtleneck.)

Even more than his Levi’s 501s and New Balance shoes, the turtleneck became synonymous with Mr. Jobs’s particular blend of genius and his focus: the way he settled on a uniform to reduce the number of decisions he had to make in the mornings, the better to focus on his work. It was an approach to dress later adopted by adherents including Mark Zuckerberg and Barack Obama. Also his ability to blend soft-corner elegance and utility in not just his own style but the style of his products.

As Ryan Tate wrote in Gawker, the turtleneck “helped make him the world’s most recognizable C.E.O.” Troy Patterson of Bloomberg called it “the vestment of a secular monk.” It was so embedded in pop culture that Elizabeth Holmes of Theranos later adopted it when she was trying to convince the world of her own Jobs-like brilliance, even though Mr. Miyake’s brand retired the style in 2011, after Mr. Jobs’s death. (An updated version was reintroduced in 2017 as “The Semi-Dull T.”)

It didn’t matter. At that point, the whole ethos of the garment had been transformed. Before Mr. Jobs encountered Mr. Miyake, after all, the black turtleneck was largely the province of beatniks and Samuel Beckett, associated with clove cigarettes, downtown and poetry readings (also ninjas, cat burglars and anyone who wanted to blend into the night). Afterward, it meant paradigm shifts.

But it would not have without Mr. Miyake. Mr. Jobs was not the typical muse of fashion cliché. But even more than the architects and artists who have gravitated toward Miyake clothing, he has become the designer’s ambassador to history: a genuinely populist part of a legacy that helped shape not just the rarefied inner sanctum of design, but the essence of how we think about dress.

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Love Letter: A Mysterious Delivery

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After Charlotte Maya lost her husband to suicide, she and her young sons were used to unexpected visitors. But when her doorbell rang one mid-December evening, nobody was there.

Instead, on her doormat was a kit to make a gingerbread house with a note that only said, “On the First Day of Christmas. … ”

In this week’s Modern Love essay, “When a Doorbell’s Ring Means Hope,” Ms. Maya describes how a series of mysterious deliveries buoyed her family during their darkest days.

Join the 7-Day Happiness Challenge.

Research shows that the single most important driver of happiness is the strength of our relationships. Sign up for a week of exercises from the New York Times Well desk that will help set you up for a happier, more connected year.

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How One Japanese-American Designer Is Revitalizing Vintage Kimonos

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In her Brooklyn studio, designer Sara Sakanaka keeps a small drawstring bag that her grandmother made for her decades ago. Sewn from textile scraps, the striped pouch is one of Sakanaka’s oldest keepsakes, an heirloom representing a generations-old philosophy. “My mom used to tell me this story. It was about how if we treat objects with love and care for one hundred years, they can obtain a soul,” she shares as pours each of us a cup of Mugicha, a Japanese Barley tea that she grew up drinking. We met at her studio on a gray Tuesday morning, where a collection of silk separates, each made from reclaimed Japanese kimonos, hangs neatly. On a shelf, folded piles of salvaged textiles wait for her to sew them into something new, just like her grandmother once did as a hobby. “There’s this whole idea that objects have lives,” she says. “I like to see every piece as a true considered object in that way.” 

Nick Krasznai / courtesy of Considered Objects 

It makes sense then that Sakanaka would name her own label Considered Objects. The 39-year-old launched her line—a collection of hand-sewn jackets, dresses, and shirtings that are made entirely from reclaimed Japanese kimonos and textiles—just two years ago. “I never had the dream of starting a business,” she shares. “I was happy working toward someone else’s vision. But at some point, there’s this part of you that wants to explore what you want to say. It took time for me to be able to discover that.” 

Sakanaka has a lot to say. With 20 years of experience under her belt, she has developed a design philosophy of her own. “I have no interest in buying new materials or producing with mills,” she says while showing me the intricate, hand-stitched panels of a vintage summer kimono. As she points out its cotton lining and hand-painted family crests (her own paternal and maternal family crests are tattooed on each of her arms), it becomes clear that she is not just making clothing; she’s stitching age-old stories into contemporary garments. “After years of working at different fashion brands, I found that you can get stuck on this hamster wheel. What has always grounded me was the question, ‘how can I not only find true meaning in these things, but how can I offer connection through these pieces?’”

Nick Krasznai / courtesy of Considered Objects 

Nick Krasznai / courtesy of Considered Objects 

An FIT graduate, the apparel designer previously worked for fashion label Imitation of Christ, luxury line Ports 1961, bespoke womenswear collection Honor, and the Japanese fashion house Foxey. In 2020, after spending nearly four years traveling back and forth between New York and Japan for work, she felt she was ready for something new. “I started to wonder how I would mentally, physically, and creatively sustain. I was burnt out.” she tells me. Around that time, her grandmother, the one who gave her the collaged drawstring bag and taught her how to sew, passed away. “This was during the pandemic, so I wasn’t able to attend her funeral in Japan. I had previously inherited her collection of kimonos and rediscovered them during that time. I had completely forgotten about them, but learning about them became part of my grieving process. Having those made me feel close to her,” Sakanaka reflects. 

It was then that she took a page from her grandmother’s book. “Studying these shambled garments and giving them new life through reconstruction was a way for me to heal while reconnecting with myself and my culture,” she says. Preserving the original rectangular panels and stitching style from each kimono, the designer began dismantling and reassembling each one. Her first design? A classic, collared, button-down shirt. Inside each shirt she constructed, Sakanaka sewed a layered patchwork flower made from leftover silk scraps. “That flower, that mark, it was sort of my way of memorializing the whole experience of my creation and of finding closure. It was a way of bestowing my honor upon each piece.” 

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Here’s How to Style 5 Luxurious Loungewear Sets This Winter

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All products featured on Vogue are independently selected by our editors. However, we may earn affiliate revenue on this article and commission when you buy something.

Cozying up for the winter has never looked chicer courtesy of luxurious loungewear sets from The Row, Wardrobe.NYC, Éterne, and more. Crafted from ultra-soft cashmeres and sultry silks, these matching sets are as indulgent as it gets and can be worn in the comfort of your own home or out and about for casual coolness. As the newly appointed foundation of your winter wardrobe, styling a luxe loungewear set properly can offer both ease and elegance at the same time. 

For an elevated errand ensemble, The Row’s ‘Jaspar’ hoodie and matching ‘Anton’ wide-leg pants are knitted from the softest of cashmere. The chic combination is so comfortable that you won’t want to change once you get home. Enhance the look with stylish sneakers from Nike, plush cable-knit socks from Johnstons of Elgin, and Nothing Written’s minimalist bag. Loungewear sets, like this cashmere turtleneck and midi skirt pairing from Altuzarra, also have the power to be dressed up for festive evenings out, especially when adorned in jewels from Missoma and Laura Lombardi. A matching activewear set from Sporty & Rich ensures that you arrive at any workout in style. Sofa-ready outfits from Wardrobe.NYC and Olivia Von Halle help curate the perfect night in this holiday season and beyond. 

This winter, investing in a loungewear set has never looked better. Below, here are five ways to style luxe loungewear sets that are as comfortable as they are chic. (Plus, also find a few more statement sets to add to your winter wardrobe.) 

The Elegant Errand Runner

Nothing says chic errand runner like this matching cashmere hoodie and pant set from The Row. Knitted from the softest of cashmere, it’s a chic combination so comfortable that you won’t want to change once you get home. Enhance the look with stylish sneakers from Nike, plush cable-knit socks from Johnstons of Elgin, and Nothing Written’s minimalist bag. Jewels from Mejuri are welcome embellishments. 

The Row Jaspar cashmere hoodie

The Row Anton cashmere high-rise pants

Johnstons of Elgin cable-knit cashmere socks

Nothing Written Ferry bag

Mejuri bold Croissant dôme huggies

The Cozy, Yet Chic Evening Look 

A loungewear set doesn’t have to be confined to the comforts of your own home or even resemble a traditional sweatsuit, for that matter. Case in point: find this dazzling skirt set from Altuzarra that is crafted from pure cashmere. Complete the elegant evening ensemble with Saint Laurent’s croc-effect pumps and Anine Bing’s minimalist handbag. Drip in gold thanks to Missoma hoop earrings and Laura Lombardi’s cult-classic necklace. 

Saint Laurent Blade chain croc-effect leather slingback pumps

Anine Bing Colette shoulder bag

Missoma x Lucy Williams chunky entwine hoop earrings

Laura Lombardi Calle gold-plated necklace

The Statement Sporty Attire

When it comes to activewear, a matching set, like this one from Sporty & Rich, will ensure that you arrive at any workout in style. Go one step further and tie the brand’s ‘Wellness’ sweatshirt around your waist for extra comfort. New Balance ‘Core’ sneakers are a staple in any workout wardrobe, as are these Bala Bangles and Stanley’s tumbler to keep you nice and hydrated. 

Sporty & Rich appliquéd cotton-jersey sweatshirt

Sporty & Rich cropped printed stretch-jersey tank

Sporty & Rich printed stretch-jersey leggings

New Balance 574 Core sneakers

Stanley Quencher H2.O travel tumbler, 40oz

The Luxurious Loungewear Set

Wardrobe.NYC x Hailey Bieber’s simple grey sweatshirt and sweatpants are prime examples of luxurious loungewear. Wear with a coveted pair of Birkenstocks—or even heels for an elevated athleisure look. But because we’re sticking with loungewear, cozy up even more courtesy of cashmere socks from Raey and Brunello Cucinelli’s alpaca-blend blanket. Loewe’s scented candle is an immediate ambiance enhancer. 

Wardrobe.NYC x Hailey Bieber cotton sweatshirt

Wardrobe.NYC x Hailey Bieber wide-leg cotton sweatpants

Birkenstock Boston shearling clogs

Raey ribbed cashmere-blend socks

Brunello Cucinelli speckled-jacquard fringed alpaca-blend blanket

Loewe Home Scents Honeysuckle medium scented candle, 610g

The Perfect Pair of Pajamas 

Olivia Von Halle’s ‘Coco’ pajama set is crafted from the finest of satins to create a soft-to-the-touch feel you’ll never want to take off. Meanwhile, Ugg slippers are the perfect accoutrement. Continue to wind down with the help of scented bath salts from Maude and Augustinus Bader’s luxurious face cream. Reflect on your day with The Five Minute Journal and finally get some shut-eye thanks to Brooklinen’s silk eye mask. 

Olivia Von Halle Coco silk-satin pajama set

Ugg Scuffette II slippers

Brooklinen Mulberry silk eyemask

Augustinus Bader The Rich Cream with TFC8® face moisturizer

Maude Soak No. 2 nourishing mineral bath salts

Shop More: 

Leset Lauren cropped stretch-knit cardigan

Leset Lauren stretch-knit wide-leg pants

Éterne oversized crewneck sweatshirt

Éterne classic sweatpants

Lisa Yang Jonny cap-sleeved cashmere sweater

Lisa Yang Sierra wide-leg cashmere trousers

Zara basic hoodie sweatshirt

Girlfriend Collective ReSet cropped stretch recycled top

Girlfriend Collective compressive stretch recycled flared leggings

Le Kasha Etretat organic cashmere sweater

Le Kasha Sumbal cashmere wide-leg pants

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