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The Life And Death Of The Canadian Tuxedo
Perhaps no outfit has ever run the cyclical gambit of fashion more than the all denim, cowboy classic known as the Canadian Tuxedo. Denim began life as the working man’s or woman’s go-to textile. Tough, durable, and comfortable, hard-working folk the world over made their bones in clothes that could last as long as themselves.
In the ‘50s the fabric of the people earned a dash of rebellion when the ultimate bad boy, Elvis Presley got his mug shot snapped in head-to-toe denim. However, the heyday of the Canadian tuxedo still lay many years in the future. Rather incidentally, the genesis of Canada’s most famous outfit started with singer Bing Crosby at a rather snooty Vancouver hotel…
A Vancouver Hotel, Bing Crosby, And The Birth Of The Canadian Tuxedo
In 1951 the world was Bing Crosby’s oyster. His music career owned countless successes like “White Christmas,” “Out Of Nowhere,” and, "I Found a Million Dollar Baby (in a Five and Ten Cent Store)" among many others. He even managed to score an Academy Award for Best Actor for his role in “Going My Way” in 1944. The Mayor of Vancouver had just awarded the celebrated singer the key to the city! Nevertheless, a Vancouver hotel attempted to bar him entry due to his all-denim duds. As the concierge Art Cameron said, “[He] looked like a bum."
Levi Steps In
The beef was quickly squashed, thanks to a worldly bellboy who recognized Crosby. Concierge Cameron still received his much deserved backlash as he remembered, “Almost all of Bing’s fans wrote me wanting to know how dared I refuse him a room and how come I didn’t recognize ‘the most famous singer in the world?'" Eventually, Levi Strauss caught wind of this violation of justice and created an ensemble aimed squarely at the Camerons of the world.
Crosby’s Custom Canadian Tuxedo
Using the same material from their classic 501 jeans, they fashioned Crosby his very own Canadian Tuxedo. On the inside of the jacket, they put all haters of the outfit on notice, reading: "Notice to All Hotel Men: a perfectly appropriate fabric and anyone wearing it should be allowed entrance into the finest hotels." They also put out a limited run of 200 of Crosby’s paradigm-shifting jacket in 2014.
Clothing Of The Cool Kids
Throughout the ‘70s and ‘80s, the Canadian Tuxedo gained traction as more and more celebrities began dousing themselves in denim. When acid wash hit in the ’80s, even more fashionistas began going Canadian. From Tupac to Drew Barrymore, everyone started going downright dungaree.
The Death Of Double Denim
Of course, everything that starts well must all also end and in this case not so well. For the Canadian Tuxedo, one can point to the singular night of the 2001 American Music Awards as the death of all denim. The then-power couple of Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake showed up in a level of denim that made everyone start questioning the outfit’s very existence. Maybe things would have been different if they hadn't gone the extra mile with her denim purse and his dungaree cowboy hat that defies description.
After that night, the denim took some time off to think about its choices. But naturally, as all things do, the full denim has slowly made its way back into circulation. Let’s just agree to leave that hat in the dusty annals of history.
Tags: acid wash jeans | Bing Crosby | denim | tuxedo
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