Levi’s Vintage Clothing Revives Bing’s Original Denim Tux

Levi’s Vintage Clothing is known for their iconic reissues and special editions that relive their treasured archive, but for S/S 14 the brand is reviving one of its most iconic pieces that changed the denim history.

Most of our readers will be aware of the term “Canadian Tuxedo”, but have you ever wondered where the reference came from? Here’s how the story goes…

Rewind to Canada 1951 and the world famous American crooner and Levi’s fanatic Bing Crosby has been denied entrance into a hotel because he and his friend were dressed completely in denim. Despite his fame, hotel management made no exception to their “inappropriate” clothing. Remember the ’50s was a time when denim still retained its work wear origins and nonconformists like Marlon Brando and James Dean only enhanced its rebellious reputation. On his return to Elko, Bing informed his friends of the ordeal. Stunned at the incident his pals immediately contacted Levi’s Strauss and Co. (who were well aware of Bing’s affection toward the brand) and so they decided to develop something unique that would ensure he would never have a problem wearing Levi’s ever again.

Just like the 501 jeans at the time, the tuxedo jacket was made from the same sturdy denim. Cleverly crafting the rigid fabric to define the sharp tux silhouette, the designers looked to the contrast indigo warp and ecru weft to shape the lapels. A lovely corsage of Red Tabs, attached by a cluster of shiny copper rivets was the perfect sign off. Inside the jacket was a huge leather patch printed with a “Notice to All Hotel Men” stating that denim is a perfectly appropriate fabric and anyone wearing it should be allowed entrance into the finest hotels.

The company presented the tux to Bing (as well as one made for the town’s mayor) at the 1951 Silver State Stampede rodeo in Elko, Nevada where he was honorary mayor. Conveniently, he was dressed in his favourite 501 jeans and a cowboy shirt, which made the jacket a perfect addition to this quirky 3-piece. As the pictures (above and below) show Bing was so happy with the tux that he donned it to many of the press appearances for his next movie, “Here Comes the Groom.” While Levi’s hold a few replicas inside their famed archives, the original jacket resides in the Northeastern Nevada Museum in Elko.

For S/S 14, LVC is reproducing this famous piece of Levi’s history with a limited run of 200 jackets. As you can see from the images below, all of the details are true to the original.

Bing Crosby and Elko, Nevada Mayor donning the denim tuxedo’s at the 1951 Silver State Stampede rodeo in Elko

Comparison between original 1951 tux and LVC’s 2014 replica 

Dapper gent wearing replica tux in true style at Levi’s Vintage Clothing product launch event at Unionmade store San Francisco.

Levi’s Vintage Clothing presentation stand at S/S 14 edition of Bread & Butter in Berlin.

Great minds think alike – Kapital will also release their own tribute take on the denim tuxedo as part of their spring 14 Sailor Ninja collection. 

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