The Canadian tuxedo, aka jeans and a denim jacket or shirt, has remained a fashion statement since it was first coined in 1951. After a long day hunting, American singer and actor Bing Crosby checked in at the Vancouver Hotel but was denied entry due to his double denim attire. Crosby’s outfit was perceived as too shabby for such grand surroundings. Luckily the bellhop promptly pointed out that this was no ordinary guest and Crosby was swiftly let in. Levi’s immediately grasped this delicious PR opportunity and created a custom denim tuxedo jacket for Crosby, complete with a red corsage, coupled with their signature 501 jeans. Sewn within the interior of the jacket lay a leather patch that read, ‘Notice to All Hotel Men’, stitching the course of fashion history forever.
What was it about Crosby’s blue wash that so repulsed Art Cameron the hotel clerk (who later admitted that he thought the Hollywood star “looked like a bum” in his denim co-ord)? Prior to Crosby’s elevation of denim, the fabric was originally perceived as a practical yarn worn by rail workers, cowboys and miners. Jacob Davis first invented the riveted denim trouser in 1871 and took it to German businessman Levi Strauss to produce. By 1873 they had patented their first pair of jeans, a wardrobe staple that quickly became synonymous with utilitarian graft and the American Dream, hence the Vancouver Hotel’s initial dismissal of denim. Even today this strict style maxim remains famously practised at the Ritz hotel and at various fusty members clubs.
The initial shock wave of Crosby’s bold fashion choice still ripples throughout history. When pop princess and prince Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake arrived in the ultimate his-n-hers denim duo look at the VMA’s in 2014, they only added to Crosby’s re-establishing of fashion rules. Workwear fabric was now gracing the red carpet, transformed into a sweeping bustier dress, a sharp tailored jacket and trilby designed by Steven Gerstein.
But it’s not all contention when it comes to the Canadian Tuxedo. Ralph Lauren created a universal lifestyle out of his, music legends Marvin Gaye, Elvis Presley and Bruce Springsteen opted for the Canadian Tuxedo when riffing their way across world stages. Princess Diana’s off duty look consisted of neat fitted high waisted jeans paired with a tucked in denim shirt, whilst rapping royalty Tupac favoured oversized denim threads. Second best selling female artist of all time Rihanna, plumps for sculptural off the shoulder Matthew Dolan denim with floor grazing jeans. The Canadian Tuxedo is also frequently found in Maria Grazia Chiuri’s collections at Dior, reincarnated season after season with a feminist twist.
Fashions twenty year cycle is running like clockwork for the Y2K trend is back with a bang, of which double denim stands hand in hand with. So when you next want to make an entrance, perhaps you too should nod to the Canadian Tuxedo. This time your statement is a climate positive one, in choosing waste-less denim via E.L.V. DENIM proving that indigo is always innovative.
Stand for change against climate change in the Canadian tuxedo.