BRINGING BACK BING: THE BING CROSBY DENIM TUX

Each February, thousands of vintage enthusiasts gather in Los Angeles for Inspiration LA, an annual gathering of all things vintage, fashion, culture and art. Founded by Japanese journalist and photographer Rin Tanaka 15 years ago, Inspiration LA has morphed into something of a spiritual gathering for vintage lovers. So of course we had to be there.

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To commemorate the occasion, we created Bing’s Room, where we displayed one of our limited edition reproductions of Bing Crosby’s 1951 denim tuxedo. So what’s the deal with the tux?

In 1951, Crosby was denied entry into a Canadian hotel because he and his friend were dressed in denim. He was eventually allowed in (once hotel staff realized who he was), but the story quickly gained traction. Friends in the states contacted Levi’s and told them of the denim hullaballoo, and designers there created a custom denim tuxedo specially for Crosby.

The jacket was made from 501 jean denim and decorated with a corsage of Red Tabs affixed with copper rivets. Inside the jacket was a huge leather patch printed with a “Notice To All Hotel Men” stating that denim was a perfectly appropriate fabric for upscale locales.  

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Levi’s presented the jacket to Crosby at the 1951 Silver State Stampede in Elko, Nevada, where he was honorary mayor. He was so taken with the denim tuxedo that he wore it on press appearances for his next film, “Here Comes the Groom.”

In honor of Bing—and rule breakers everywhere—Levi’s produced a limited edition run of Crosby’s denim tux as part of its Spring 2014 collection. All of the details will be true to the original.

Bing Crosby and Levi’s: Is there anything more all-American?