The metamorphosis of Mark Zuckerberg

In the run-up to Meta's first-quarter earnings report this week, a video image of Mark Zuckerberg suddenly started to go viral.

Not for the AI ​​assistant it advertised or the projected growth in ad revenue, but for the silver chain around its neck.

“Mark Zuckerberg made an announcement about something Meta is doing with AI, but I couldn't listen or hold it for a second because when I watch the reel of him talking, all I see is a necklace,” Amy wrote Odell in his Substack. , Last row.

Later, an edited version of the same image with Mr. Zuckerberg sporting scruffy facial hair wowed people even more. Among the more than 4,000 mostly drooling comments under an Instagram post from the celebrity account The Shade Room, included one from Gwyneth Paltrow, who compared Mr. Zuckerberg to her ex-husband, Chris Martin.

Suddenly, it seems, people really care about what 39-year-old Mark Zuckerberg looks like. At a time when the happy promise of technology has been cast in a darker, more suspicious light, the boy whose relentless allegiance to a gray T-shirt has become synonymous with the nerdy promise of “move fast and break things” has become somewhat the kindest way, the kindest face of technology.

“The history of Silicon Valley has always been about a carefully constructed image and narrative used to reinforce its myths,” said Venky Ganesan, a partner at venture capital firm Menlo Ventures. But, he continued, “the program is changing.”

And Zuckerberg has emerged as the most visible sign that we are entering a post-Jobsian era in Silicon Valley phenomenology.

Once upon a time, back when Steve Jobs was the prophet of a better future through computing, the virtues of his approach to life seemed obvious, including his adoption of an unchanging everyday uniform as the ideal form of dress. He freed his mind from the petty worries of everyday choices like which color shirt to match which socks. (How annoying!) That was also the case with Zuckerberg, who went so far as to announce in a 2014 Facebook forum that he wore the same T-shirt every day because “I really want to clarify my life so we can make as few decisions as possible, other than how to best serve this community.”

(Sure, it was a luxe version of a gray Brunello Cucinelli T-shirt, but it was still a T-shirt.)

But after numerous trips by CEOs to Washington, D.C., to testify about controversies over anxiety and depression caused by social media pressures; after the convictions of Elizabeth Holmes (she with the black turtleneck à la Jobs) and Sam Bankman-Fried; after the cesspool of conspiracy theories and anger that emerged about X; after all this, the story – and its heroes' journeys and its heroes' costumes – suddenly doesn't seem so convincing anymore. Here is the new, loser Mr. Zuckerberg.

He has become, said Joseph Rosenfeld, an image consultant and stylist who works with executives in New York and California, “a more democratized figure.”

The seeds were probably planted in 2021, when Facebook went Meta, and Zuckerberg's first avatar – dressed, as he generally was in real life, in a T-shirt and jeans – turned out to have a wardrobe of alternative clothes, among including a skeleton unitard and astronaut suit. The transformation took hold when Mr. Zuckerberg discovered the joys of mixed martial arts and began posting photographs of himself shirtless, sweaty and with various bumps and bruises. It then reached a tipping point with the introduction of the Threads platform.

Not long after Zuckerberg unveiled his “open, friendly public space for conversation,” he also unveiled his friendlier new look, focused less on an automated uniform and more on experimentation (everything being relative), as recorded via his own post on Instagram. Suddenly it seemed like he was having fun with fashion.

He happily shared photographs of himself looking “Yellowstone” in a chunky Overland shearling coat. (It appears to be the Maverick Rancher's coat, which is the kind of subconscious “Saturday Night Live” could embrace.) Then came photos of himself and his wife, Priscilla Chan, at the three-day pre-wedding celebration of Anant Ambani in Gujarat, in various forms of Indian-inspired elegance: a gold silk Sunderbans Tigress shirt by Rahul Mishra, a black Alexander McQueen dress embroidered with silver dragonflies and a pastel floral kurta.

And then Mr. Zuckerberg added a photo captioned “jersey swap” in which he and Nvidia's Jensen Huang swapped outerwear, with Mr. Zuckerberg wearing one of Mr. Huang's signature leather jackets and Mr. Huang wearing his sheepskin. By the time of his latest trip to the capital, he had let his tightly controlled Julius Caesar haircut morph into looser curls.

He even started sharing shopping tips. When New York magazine's Jen Wieczner wrote an article identifying a sweater worn by Mr. Zuckerberg as belonging to the wealth brand Loro Piana, she appeared in the comments under the magazine's Instagram post to note that the garment was actually a crewneck Buck. Mason, a Los Angeles brand that focuses on American classics, not one from an Italian luxury house owned by LVMH.

Then, when one of Zuckerberg's followers complimented a ribbed cardigan she wore for date night on her feed, he chimed in with a tag: “It's @johnelliottco — I've been loving their stuff lately.”

Other brands he favors now include Thirteen Studios' Blanks (he wore his white T-shirt during an Ultimate Fighting Champion match), Todd Snyder and Vuori.

“They're trendy names,” said Derek Guy, who blogs about menswear at Die, Workwear! “Everything has a different silhouette, like the sweatshirt with sleeves that are too long or the T-shirt with dropped shoulders.”

Mr. Guy and Mr. Ganesan, of Menlo Ventures, said they were convinced that Mr. Zuckerberg had asked for professional help (i.e. a stylist) to help him develop his look. But a spokesperson for Meta said that was not the case, at least in her daily life. “Mark mostly buys clothes he finds on Instagram,” he said. “Although he occasionally receives input for formal events and occasions.”

In any case, Zuckerberg's move from the luxury labels made famous by the morally bankrupt billionaires of “Succession” to more contemporary brands means that he “now has a stable of clothing that makes him an accessible figure to the world and his audience.” . He said Mr. Rosenfeld.

His new wardrobe also sets him apart from rivals like Jeff Bezos – who has transformed into a real-life version of Iron Man, with his bulging muscles, leather jackets and yachts – and Elon Musk, who seems to channel a sort of “Top Gun ”-meets-“Goldfinger” vibe.

Instead, Ganesan said, Mr. Zuckerberg now resembles “the friend you want to call if you're doing construction work in the backyard.” Think of him as the technician next door. All of this is important because, Ganesan continued, “mainstream America can relate to this, and is offering a mainstream product.”

And that, he said, is simply “very good for business.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *