How A Clothing Firm Is Profiting Off A Phony Connection To Steve Jobs And His Trademark Turtleneck

The death of Steve Jobs has been a bonanza for St. Croix, the menswear manufacturer that claims credit for producing the late Apple chief’s trademark black mock turtleneck. On its website, the company refers to Jobs as a “fan of St. Croix.” Additionally, “as a tribute to Steve,” the firm promises to donate $20 to “the ongoing fight against cancer” for every $175 Jobs-style turtleneck ordered by October 16.

The St. Croix website includes a photo of Jobs, who, like the Minnesota-based clothing company, “understood the value of combining great design with advanced technology to create products of unparalleled quality.” The site also has a photo of a stubble-clad Jobs knockoff modeling the black turtleneck (known as “Style 1990”).

In an interview the day after Jobs’s October 5 death, Bernhard Brenner, founder of Knitcraft (which produces the St. Croix line) claimed that the Apple co-founder purchased two dozen turtlenecks annually and would occasionally call him to say how much he liked the sweater. “Obviously we’re going to miss Steven Jobs as a customer,” said the 72-year-old Brenner. “But the country will miss him period.”

St. Croix spokesman Bruce Amster repeated the claim that Jobs was a prized customer. In an interview today, he told TSG that the company had previously “been in contact a little bit with [Jobs’s] office.” Asked how he knew that the Jobs turtleneck was a St. Croix product, Amster assured a reporter that company officials had “studied the garment closely” and that Jobs’s devotion to St. Croix had “been confirmed by various sources.”

The claim that Jobs was a St. Croix fan was parroted by the stenographers at the gossip site TMZ, which has published a pair of “exclusives” about the late executive’s purported turtleneck devotion.

But despite St. Croix’s headlong rush to wrap Jobs’s corpse in a “Style 1990” death shroud, the firm was not the source of the late billionaire’s favorite garment.

As detailed today by Gawker, Jobs spoke with his biographer, Walter Issacson, about his signature style. In Issacson’s upcoming book, Jobs is quoted saying that he had asked the Japanese designer Issey Miyake, a friend, to “make me some of his black turtlenecks that I liked, and he made me like a hundred of them."

“Jobs,” Issacson writes, “noticed my surprise when he told this story, so he showed them stacked up in the closet. ‘That's what I wear,’ he said. ‘I have enough to last for the rest of my life.’”

Presented with Jobs’s own account that his turtleneck was produced in bulk by Miyake, not St. Croix, Amster could only offer that he had not heard that previously. Asked about the appearance that St. Croix was seeking to profit from a nonexistent connection to the tech pioneer, Amster said that the firm had “received consistent feedback” that Jobs wore its product.

At press time, the St. Croix web site was reporting that, “We are temporarily out of stock of our black mock, Style 1990.” But prospective customers are assured that the firm was still accepting orders, and that Jobs's purported favorite turtleneck would be shipped by October 28.