There’s a new tech titan in town, and he’s preparing to enter the pantheon. As we know?

Well, Jensen Huang, the CEO of Nvidia, has the company: he co-founded Nvidia in 1993, and the market capitalization is now about $950 billion, although in late May it was briefly on the market. $1 billion clubputting it in a similar league to Apple, Alphabet and Amazon.

It has the product: a data processing chip that is key to the development of AI, that is, the life of ChatGPT and Bard, that is, the current paradigm shift.

And he’s got the look: a black leather jacket that he wears whenever he’s in the public eye, most often with a black T-shirt and black jeans.

Mr. Huang was wearing a black leather jacket when he was in the time cover as one of their Men of the Year in 2021. A black leather jacket during his keynote addresses at multiple GTC developer conferences since 2018. To deliver the ITF World Keynote 2023 and Computex 2023 keynote of 2023. He even identified himself, back in a reddit LOVES in 2016, as “the guy in the leather jacket.”

Sometimes his leather jackets have collars, sometimes they look more like biker jackets; sometimes there are a lot of zippers involved, sometimes not. But the jackets are always black. He has been using them, a spokesman said, “for at least 20 years.” The point is that he always looks the same.

There has yet to be a popularly identifiable AI face. ChatGPT and Bard are anonymous brains. That’s part of what makes AI so creepy: its incorporeal nature. Sam Altman, the CEO of OpenAI, is ubiquitous, but seems a bit generic. Mr. Huang and his leather jacket are prepared to walk cleanly into that hole.

The jacket is an object that has become a signifier, of a person but also of the great leap forward that person represents. And that association puts Mr. Huang in the same club as Steve Jobs, the “black turtleneck,” Mark Zuckerberg, the “gray T-shirt,” and Jeff “Pitbull” Bezos, a CEO who understands that the difference between a A company that is a world-changing success and a company that is a world-changing success that becomes part of pop culture can be the image of your figurehead. One that is cartoonish enough to make its way into the public imagination and become the avatar of a movement.

“It makes a person instantly recognizable, like a cartoon character or a superhero,” said Richard Thompson Ford, author of “Dress Codes: How the Laws of Fashion Made History” and a professor at Stanford Law School. He signals “a down-to-earth rejection of the artifice of fashion, while still harnessing the power of fashion.”

Not that the people involved put it exactly that way.

When asked why they use the same thing every day, most powerful people who are willing to answer the question say it saves them time, allowing them to think about whatever urgent problem is at hand, not what what they are going to use day.

This is what Barack Obamawho managed to wear only gray or dark blue suits as president, plus that unfortunate moment of the tan suitsaid, just like Mr Zuckerberg. According to Mr. Huang’s spokesman, “he said earlier that he dresses in the same style of black pants and shirt because he presents one less set of decisions that he must make each day.” (Mr. Huang himself was “taking a break from speaking to the media,” the spokesman said.)

That is unquestionably true. Wearing the same uniform every day also communicates discipline (no frills here), focus and, Ford said, “reliability,” all qualities that are desirable in any CEO.

But to think that that’s all it’s about is missing part of the picture. Anyone with aspirations for global domination, especially in the age of visual communication, would know enough about history to know that.

After all, wearing the same thing every day is a shortcut to creating a Pavlovian identity in the hive mind, not just in Silicon Valley but in almost any setting. When you think of magazine publishers, for example, who comes to mind? Anna Wintour, with her severe long hair and dark glasses. When do you think of the Supreme Court? Black robes (and maybe Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s lace collar).

History is littered with figures who understood the power of a consistent visual signature, so much so that they often had clothing styles named after them. Nelson Mandela had the madiba shirt; Narendra Modi, the modi kurta; Jawaharlal Nehru, the nehru jacket. These associations become impossible to forget, embedded deep in our cerebral cortex, shaping assumptions and opinions. Check out Elizabeth Holmes and her black turtleneck, which, with her direct link to Steve Jobs, implied brilliance to the world of onlookers whether we knew it or not.

And when it comes to cultural associations, there are few pieces as rich in adjectives as a black leather jacket. It is effectively a pre-made personality, as Mr. Huang clearly knows.

According an observerWhen the Nvidia chief strolled through Computex in Taipei last month in his leather jacket, he was asked how he could handle the heat. (He temperature the day of his keynote speech it was between 79 and 90 degrees).

“I’m always great,” Mr. Huang replied.

The black leather jacket “connects 1950s Hollywood with a sense of independence, the open road, rebellion and sex appeal,” said Joseph Rosenfeld, an image consultant and stylist in Silicon Valley.

It’s the uniform of Marlon Brando in “The Wild One” and James Dean in photos almost everywhere. From the Beats and the Beatles; Elvis and David Bowie (in his Berlin days). It’s the opposite of what we think of when we think of a tech nerd, so the fact that Mr. Huang chose it as his uniform was so smart. He stands out. Causes a reassessment.

Especially in a 60-year-old man like Mr. Huang. Imagine “if Huang were wearing a suit or even a polo shirt and khakis,” Ford said. “He would look like a boring, conventional middle manager.” Instead, he said, the leather jacket “signals that he is a creative guy and a person of high status who can wear whatever he wants.”

When I asked ChatGPT: “Why does Jensen Huang wear the same black leather jacket all the time?” answered with four options, including the suggestion that “leather jackets, particularly black ones, are often associated with a sense of confidence, authority, and professionalism.” Also motorcycles, which have to do with speed.

The jacket also connects to a founding myth of Silicon Valley and Jobs, the man who was the antithesis of the men in gray suits at IBM, and “almost a spiritual leader to some,” as Ford put it. Someone, he said, “who represents a kind of golden age, when anything seemed possible and people still thought that technology would be a force for good in the world,” a particularly salient reminder at a time when the public conversation is focuses in part on the potential threat of AI

And the jacket strategy is adding up. According to Mr. Rosenfeld, “Customers have asked me about the leather jacket, wanting to know if they can wear the same one.” (He said that he told them that Mr. Huang already had the style and advised them to develop another signature.)

For those who want to know what brand Mr. Huang uses, his spokesperson said he didn’t know. Unlike Jobs, who had many versions of the same Issey Miyake turtleneck (or Zuckerberg, who wears Brunello Cucinelli T-shirts), Huang seems to vary his jackets. But Mr. Rosenfeld surmised that they “don’t seem to be on a level with Tom Ford, who we know he could well afford. At least some that I have seen appear to be Theory.”

However, for those who want to get the look, at least seven different e-tailers currently offer “Jensen Huang leather jackets” for prices starting at $109 (jacketpop) at $149.99 (tgenuine leather).

To put this in context, superstar jacket sells two versions of a “jensen huang leather jacket”, along with a “Fast & Furious 10 Vin Diesel jacket”, a “Snoop Dogg leather jacket” and an “Indiana Jones leather jacket”.

But Mr. Huang is the only CEO who has a jacket with his name on it.

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