Cayce Pollard Unit
Cayce Pollard Units, or CPUs, are a way of describing a minimalist efficient funtional anti-fashion aesthetic with no logos. First entered into existence in William Gibson's Pattern Recognition.
“CPUs. Cayce Pollard Units. That’s what Damien calls the clothing she wears. CPUs are either black, white, or gray, and ideally seem to have come into this world without human intervention.
What people take for relentless minimalism is a side effect of too much exposure to the reactor-cores of fashion. This has resulted in a remorseless paring-down of what she can and will wear. She is, literally, allergic to fashion. She can only tolerate things that could have been worn, to a general lack of comment, during any year between 1945 and 2000. She’s a design-free zone, a one-woman school of anti whose very austerity periodically threatens to spawn its own cult.”
In Coilhouse, Zo writes that, about the Cacye Pollard freedom of standardized clothing, a system in which "we fantasize about the ease with which we’d face each day, choosing only between a pant suit and a skirt suit with plain heels or boots, abandoning all other options in favor of utilitarian ease. Reading about Cayce Pollard’s minimal wardrobe in Gibson’s Pattern Recognition cemented this secret desire some years ago."
The everyday clothing of Steve Jobs could be considered a Cayce Pollard unit. It is minimal, efficient, and does not require one to think in the morning about what to wear when waking up. The story of Jobs' outfit is outlined in Walter Isaacson's biography of Steve Jobs.
On a trip to Japan in the early 1980s, Jobs asked Sony's chairman Akio Morita why everyone in the company's factories wore uniforms. He told Jobs that after the war, no one had any clothes, and companies like Sony had to give their workers something to wear each day. Over the years, the uniforms developed their own signatures styles, especially at companies such as Sony, and it became a way of bonding workers to the company. "I decided that I wanted that type of bonding for Apple," Jobs recalled.
Sony, with its appreciation for style, had gotten the famous designer Issey Miyake to create its uniform. It was a jacket made of rip-stop nylon with sleeves that could unzip to make it a vest. So Jobs called Issey Miyake and asked him to design a vest for Apple, Jobs recalled, "I came back with some samples and told everyone it would great if we would all wear these vests. Oh man, did I get booed off the stage. Everybody hated the idea."
In the process, however, he became friends with Miyake and would visit him regularly. He also came to like the idea of having a uniform for himself, both because of its daily convenience (the rationale he claimed) and its ability to convey 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 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.
- Gibson, William. "Bitch", in Pattern Recognition. G. P. Putnam's Sons, 2003. p. 8.
- What’s Zo Wearing? Coilhouse. http://coilhouse.net/2007/11/culture-whats-zo-wearing-december-11-2007/ Published November 11, 2007. Accessed August 18, 2012.
- Excerpt from "Steve Jobs" by Walter Isaacson. Reprinted without permission.