The much anticipated biopic Jobs is due to hit the big screen in just a matter of weeks. Since the film retells events that actually happened, visually setting the scene properly both in terms of locations and clothes was of the utmost importance to convey authenticity. In a recent interview, the film’s costume designer Lisa Jensen revealed some pretty substantial details about what was involved in achieving the Steve Jobs look.
You might be tempted to think it’s an easy task; grab a pair of 501 Levi’s, a black turtle neck and a pair of spherical specs and it’s a job done, right? Well, not quite. First of all, the film is set over a number of decades (1971 – 2000) and Steve Jobs did not adopt his distinctive look until the latter part of that period. As the story progresses, the clothes had to be changed to reflect the different fashions of each era. Regional variation also had to be taken into consideration as certain sections of the film are set in Oregon, Hawaii, and India, as well as Apple’s iconic home in California.
In fact, there’s so many different periods of time covered in the 2 hour duration of the film that Ashton Kutcher as Steve Jobs wears upwards of 75 different outfits throughout. That adds up to quite a substantial wardrobe for a film with a relatively tight budget.
According to costume designer Lisa Jensen:
“Ashton Kutcher was extremely dedicated to his character on absolutely every level: mannerisms, voice, walk, diet, personality, hair, facial hair, age makeup, clothing, what he carried in his hands going into the office… You name it.”
Part of Ashton Kutcher’s dedication involved losing weight to replicate the lanky appearance of Steve Jobs in his youth. He then regained this weight as the story progressed, which posed another challenge in terms of sizing. All in all, over 60 pairs of jeans were needed to address the different waist lengths and varying levels of wear and tear required throughout. Fortunately, a big helping hand came in the form of Levi Strauss & Co. who supplied a “mountain of jeans” to get the costume designers off to a good start.
The world famous jeans maker was far from the only company involved in supplying clothes for the movie. New Balance dug up old factory molds and reproduced an exact pair of sneakers that Steve Jobs often wore, impressive. Costume designer Lisa Jensen also worked with a Los Altos/Palo Alto based tailor, Cassara Brothers Clothiers. They used to dress top Apple executives during the years the film covers, and based upon their old designs, they custom made a suit for Ashton Kutcher’s role as Steve Jobs.
Of great interest is how both costume designer Lisa Jensen and Ashton Kutcher focused on telling the “day to day narrative” through the costumes. Many publicly available photographs of Steve Jobs are staged photo-ops, which are not necessarily representative of the former Apple CEO’s everyday life in terms of clothing. Discussing her collaboration with the Two and a Half Men star and technology startup investor, Lisa Jensen said:
“We both had incredible research, thoughts and opinions and melded them. We agreed on specific beats, say the exact tie, shirt, shoes, suspenders etc for a re-enactment of an event, and we discussed the arcs of Jobs clothing over the years for emotional high and low points, maturity and immaturity.”
At all times they “stayed as true as possible to each twist and turn, and aimed at a dignity and simplicity Jobs kept in his dress.” Never were they tempted to ‘glam up’ the character’s clothes for the purpose of sensationalizing the film. The only ‘glam’ came in the form of the inner intensity Steve Jobs had for Apple and his greater vision.
When asked what her thoughts were on iPhone apps that let you create your own wardrobe, costume designer Lisa Jensen said “[Steve Jobs] was the app – he found his look, stuck to it, made it alive, comfortable and cool no matter how often he wore it.”
Costume Designer Lisa Jensen Crafts The Steve Jobs Look