“We’re not just a retail shop that happens to sell guns and apparel,” says Wendy Bykowski. “This is our lifestyle. We shoot beautiful guns, we wear vintage clothes. It all goes together.”
I’m standing inside Bykowski Tailor & Garb, the downtown Austin shop Wendy co-owns with her combat veteran husband, Christopher. The place looks like a movie set: Gramophones decorate one wall, and an antique Winchester 97 shotgun is mounted on another.
Vintage-inspired tweed suits, handsome cowboy and prohibition-era hats, leather gun bags, and brass pocket watches are on display. A gold-plated Tommy gun is mounted on the brick wall. For sale near the register is a selection beautifully engraved revolvers and 1911-platform pistols.
“There are a few other guns too, tucked away and not for sale,” Wendy says and winks.
Clearly, this place isn’t your average menswear store. Christopher and Wendy themselves look like they’ve stepped out of the roaring ‘20s and snuck booze through prohibition, all with a tip toward the Old West – except they’ve designed all of their clothes, shoes, and hats themselves.
Motivated in part by the lack of suitable menswear options for their own wedding, Chris and Wendy started designing gentlemen’s clothing. Over the better part of a decade, they’ve expanded beyond suit design to build a brand that evokes their whole lifestyle, including their love of shooting.
“We’ve got an in-house tailor, a hatter, cobblers,” Wendy says, “and now we have our own FFL.”
“We’re confident there isn’t any other store in the world like this,” Christopher adds, “because when we wanted it ten years ago, it didn’t exist, and now here we are.”
The Bykowskis finally decided to get licensed to sell firearms to continue sharing their lifestyle. A holstered 1911, or perhaps a derringer in an inside jacket pocket, complements their menswear designs perfectly. They’re also following in the footsteps of Christoper’s late grandfather, who was also a combat veteran, gun dealer, shop owner, and then some, in Detroit.
“Our clientele ranges from grooms to iconic rock stars,” Chris explains. “They come in, they get the bespoke suit. At that point, why not spend a little more or even just as much and get the gun, too if that’s up your alley. Where else can you do that?”
Currently, Bykowski Tailor & Garb is running a “Suit & Shoot” program: Gentlemen who buy a two-piece suit or a three-piece tweed suit get a handgun to go along with the togs. The two-piece Suit & Shoot combo gets you a made-to-measure suit and a 9mm P-64. The three-piece combo gets you a Nickel-plated Cimarron 1911 in .45 ACP. They will ship suits anywhere and guns to any FFL, so this is not just for Texans.
“People also have their guns shipped to us because we’re an FFL,” Wendy adds, “and when they come in to pick up the guns, we’re not exactly what they expect. They stay, peruse and buy a shooting shirt or jacket, and hopefully they spread the word about us.”
In the next few weeks, the Bykowskis are also launching their VIP Tommy Club.
The Tommy Club Membership consists of a three-piece custom suit, a gold-plated Kahr / Auto Ordnance Tommy gun, a professional portrait of you in your custom suit with your gun to be displayed on the Tommy Club wall in the store and an online gallery, and a 20% lifetime discount on everything at Bykowski Tailor & Garb. An added benefit is an heirloom piece to be passed down for generations to come.
The Bykowskis also host social and musical gatherings at their shop, so especially if you’re local to Austin, follow them on Facebook to get updates. Once again, they’ll serve customers anywhere, not just the Lone Star State, so check out their wares on their website.
The Bykowski design house includes more than what’s on their site, and always at competitive prices – so don’t hesitate to call them up if you don’t immediately see what you’re looking for.