Wednesday, December 7, 2011

South Koreans crazy about Steve Jobs uniform

So says the Los Angeles Times:
This holiday season, South Korean youths are snapping up a new fashion statement -– the Levi’s 501 jeans made famous by the late Apple Inc. founder Steve Jobs.

In this wired nation, where 99% of people under 40 regularly use the Internet, many trends are cyber-induced, and in recent years, young consumers have rejected the products and image of homegrown Samsung in favor of the iconic Jobs.

The blue jeans were, of course, only part of the uniform: There were the over-sized glasses, black mock turtleneck and New Balance sneakers. They were Jobs’ uniform of choice when he introduced his newest, hottest lines of technology, such as the iPad or the iPhone.

South Koreans buy tons of Apple products, but, style-wise, the jeans are the new hip thing.

A poll taken by Shinsegae, a major department store here, found that the Jobs-inspired 501 look was one of the hottest sellers this year.
Actually, and I don't know if I should be embarrassed to admit this, but I used to dress almost exactly like Steve Jobs, though not for camaraderie or anything, and certainly not every day (Kushibo can rock a suit). I just liked 501s and black or dark gray mock turtlenecks. After Steve Jobs made it his thing, I kinda sorta had to back off a bit. Nowadays I look like someone from Lost or Hawaii Five-0. But not the Hurley guy.

I don't know where I was going with that.

Anyway, I find it interesting that in a country where Apple had come to be seen as a rival to the fortunes of the country's own great electronics icon, that Steve Jobs would be seen as such a hero worthy of emulation. I guess that's a sign of changing allegiances and, perhaps, a sense that the old order of chaebol supremacy (with the concomitant tendency to follow Western technological trends and the perceived lack of creativity) has seen its day.

Yup. Quite a pronouncement to make from a pair of pants. Next week: I'll explain Kim Jong-il and his purple-flared ski jacket. 



  1. Odd, isn't it? In my second year presentations class, I show a clip form Mac World 2007 where Jobs introduces the iPhone. The goal being to demonstrate positive body language and interaction with a minimalist power point (or whatever Apple calls it). In the past, this exercise was met with benign indifference from most students. This semester I have two classes from the uni's business school. These kids were literally glued to the screen and there was a collective "wtf?!" when I shut it off after twenty minutes. At least to these budding executives and start up geniuses Jobs is a hero worthy of emulation, something I've never heard from these guys about Lee, Keun-hee or any other chaebol leader.

    That said, the fact that Shinsegae is selling Levi's 501s for 170,000 a pop points to ongoing problems for Korean consumers at the hands of the chaebols. Especially since you can buy the same freakin' jeans a few blocks away in Namdaemoon Market for 50,000.

  2. The "minimalist" power point is Keynote...

  3. I don't know if you've seen the original Millennium Trilogy
    but Stieg Larson was a major fan of Apple. I wonder if the new, unnecessary, Hollywood version will keep it that way or if a pc company paid more for product placement.

  4. John, I have not yet read the books (even though I received two of them for Christmas last year), and I'd been putting off watching the Swedish versions until I read them, but they're in my Netflix queue.

    I will be looking out for the Apple presence, though.

    Douglas, interesting to hear about young Koreans' enthusiasm for Steve Jobs. I think, with so many Koreans using and loving so many Apple products these days (even if Macs have never caught on like they have here in American academia), I guess it shouldn't be too surprising that they would so lovingly associate with him.

    See, not only do his products have a major cool and wow factor, but he also maintains a tight hold on his empire, an appealing kind of strict control in the face of chaos that has resonated with Koreans for decades.


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