The Genteel
June 13, 2021


Looks from Joe Fresh's S/S 2014 Collection. Source:

Why does it usually take an outsider's perspective to point out the obvious? A recent article in The Wall Street Journal published on November 1, titled "Fashion Has Finally Caught Up With the Canadian Tuxedo" did just that. Alistair Macdonald declared in this article that the denim-on-denim look, which "had long been considered a fashion blunder," and whose popularisation is attributed by many in popular culture to Canadians, is now deemed officially cool. Finally.

Within this article Macdonald profiles a Los Angeles-based professional marketer, Gretchen Schneider who has been celebrating the Canadian Tuxedo since 2011. She has achieved this by posting modern and stylish denim-on-denim looks on her blog "That’s one dope ass Canadian Tuxedo." Schneider documents cool street style subjects from West Hollywood to L.A., New York and Amsterdam. The blog also spotlights celebrities who have nailed the look; the likes of whom include Rihanna, Eva Mendez and Sarah Jessica Parker.

rihanna double denim
Rihanna in double denim. Source:

Not only does Schneider make a case for the Canadian Tuxedo's sartorial credibility, but she also strongly urges Canadians to fully embrace the look themselves. In her "An Open Letter to Canada" from October 18, Schneider says: "I have met several Canadians who seem ashamed of the association, while others like Americans, Brits and the Dutch not only celebrate the look, but wear it far more often than your people, and I think would be proud to own the title to Double Denim look, if it's not good enough for you."

I agree with Schneider completely on this point: yes, the Canadian Tuxedo is part of Canada's fashion identity and no, it is nothing to be ashamed of.  Although Canadians often publicly shirk away from the negative style associations of the Canadian Tuxedo (thanks in part to Bing Crosby, who was a fan of denim and for whom Levi's created the original all-denim tuxedo in 1951), as a nation we have actually appropriated the double denim look much more than we care to admit.

Protestations aside, Canadians do love double denim really - we have just never adequately voiced our admiration. Evidence of the Canadian Tuxedo can be found almost uniformly from the West to East coast. Vancouverites appreciate the look's casual appeal; Calgary cowboys don it for its durability (the city popularised double denim over the decades at their annual Calgary Stampede); Torontonian urbanites and hipsters (I'm looking at you Queen West) love the look's practical and year-round wear appeal; and hip Montréalers also embrace its functionality and cool factor (the city's creatives have successfully mastered the modern Canadian Tuxedo look).

And I can't forget to mention the appeal of the Canadian Tuxedo to practically every Canadian musician. For better or worse, names ranging from Sam Roberts Band to Arcade Fire, Feist, Bryan Adams and even Drake have sported the look at some point in their career.

The importance of this particular look should be stressed. The Canadian Tuxedo has truly been adopted internationally on its own merit.

Canadian designers have also continued to modernise and refine the denim-on-denim look, if not on an explicitly seasonal basis. Creative director Joe Mimran of Joe Fresh featured several double denim looks in his S/S 2014 collection, shown during Toronto Fashion Week this past October. Mimran commented on the collection to FASHION Magazine backstage before the show: "All the raw-cut denim to me is really super cool." A short and sweet reason with which I couldn't agree more. Interested readers can expect these looks to hit the nearest Joe Fresh store in North America next spring.

There is also Toronto-based Klaxon Howl, a menswear label that has been re-working the Canadian Tuxedo look for several years (the F/W 2013 collection was especially heavy on double denim in a black/grey palette). Likewise, Brandon Svarc of the Montréal-based, "Made In Canada" denim label Naked & Famous Denim (which has seen great success in North America) has not shied away from grittier versions of the Canadian Tuxedo within the company's collections.

While these are only a few Canada-specific references of those in support of re-affirming double denim as a part of the country's fashion identity, the importance of this particular look should be stressed. The Canadian Tuxedo has truly been adopted internationally on its own merit: it is featured frequently in the Style pages of The New York Times, in major North American and European fashion magazines (equally in male and female-targeted publications), and documented on The Sartorialist blog, as well as countless other international street style blogs (from Brooklyn to Stockholm, London and L.A.). Even Karl Lagerfeld gave the Canadian Tuxedo a nod of approval in Chanel's Resort 2013 collection, which was heavy on double denim looks.

chanel resort 2013 double denim
A look from Chanel Resort 2013. Source:

As such, I no longer see a reason for why Canadians shouldn't embrace this double denim look more whole-heartedly. Dress your wardrobe in swathes of this blue material; the negative reputation around the Canadian Tuxedo has been practically wiped out thanks to some pretty savvy styling techniques and street-style.

Just like other fashion staples and stereotypes that define Canadian fashion - including the plaid shirt, the toque, Hudson's Bay iconic stripes and the wilderness and sports-inspired heritage sweaters (usually emblazoned with Canadiana motifs like the maple leaf, the beaver, the polar bear and the hockey stick) - the Canadian Tuxedo is here to stay. The fashion world has finally acknowledged the look's appeal and so it is time, Canada, to proudly endorse it too.

Related: Blue Denim 

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