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Did Bing Crosby invent the Canadian tuxedo?

The true story of a Vancouver hotel, double denim and a Hollywood legend.

The true story of a Vancouver hotel, double denim and a Hollywood legend.

Bing Crosby's Canadian tuxedo. (Levi Strauss & Co.)

By Tahiat Mahboob

Whether you prefer dark on light or go the monochromatic route, denim-on-denim, aka the Canadian tuxedo, is a staple part of wardrobes across this country. But, according to Levi Strauss & Co, the Canadian tuxedo's origins can actually be traced back to a famous American.

As the denim company's historian Lynn Downey writes, the roots of the double denim can be traced back to 1951 in Vancouver. Below is a excerpt from her Short History of Denim.

Singer Bing Crosby was very fond of Levi's jeans and was wearing his favorite pair while on a hunting trip to Canada with a friend in that year. The men tried to check into a Vancouver hotel, but because they were wearing denim, the desk clerk would not give them a room; apparently denim-clad visitors were not considered high-class enough for this hotel. Because the men were wearing Levi's jeans, the clerk did not even bother to look past their clothing to see that he was turning away America's most beloved singer (luckily for Bing, he was finally recognized by the bellhop). LS&CO. heard about this and created a denim tuxedo jacket for Bing, which we presented to him at a celebration in Elko, Nevada, where Bing was honorary mayor.

And so the Canadian tuxedo was born, worn by everyone from Canadian rockers and our Prime Minister to celebrities on Hollywood red carpets. How will you wear yours this Canada Day weekend?


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