Bill Wermerskirchen didn’t just enter the men’s clothing business. When he founded Bill’s Toggery in 1931, he entered the men’s confidence business. He made a name for himself by making his clientele appear self-assured, handsome and dapper wherever their paths took them.
“Who made your suit?” was a question commonly passed around by regular chappies of the 1930s, to whom being seen without a suit in public was the equivalent of … well, if standards for clothing still existed, then you might just have your analogy. Every time they answered that question truthfully, Bill’s customers graciously volunteered as his own brand ambassadors.
Ninety two years later, Bill’s business lives on. Billy Wermerskirchen III continues to imbue men with greater confidence both in mind and appearance, and he does it at Bill’s original location in downtown Shakopee – formerly the bank that loaned Charles Lindbergh the money to buy his first airplane, which is why Bill’s dressing room is a walk-in vault.
With Bill’s tailoring, custom clothing, big and tall clothing, business attire, footwear, sportswear, formalwear and casual wear, there’s no occasion you can’t dress your best for. Maybe you need a clean shirt and new shoes for the country club. Maybe you need a silk suit and black tie for a wedding. Maybe you’ve taken the message behind “Sharp Dressed Man” to heart. Or maybe you are a lady who doesn’t put effort into her own appearance just so she can be seen around town with a husband wearing a tattered ZZ Top Gang of Outlaws Tour T-shirt. No matter – just go to Bill’s.
“Very few men’s clothiers keep a full-time tailor on staff anymore,” said Billy. “Bill’s is one of them, which allows us to make every alteration a suit could need to look and fit like it’s custom made. Once we’ve taken your measurements the old-fashioned way, with a tape, ordering a bespoke new suit becomes as easy as calling our Custom Shoppe. We also sell premium dress shirts by David Donahue and others, as well as the ties, socks, shoes and accessories that complete any great suit.”
Alterations conform a suit to a man’s physique. They do not compensate for poor quality, which is why Bill’s only sells suits and blazers by highly regarded menswear brands such as Jack Victor of Montréal and Hart Schaffner Marx of Des Plaines. Cheap buttons, synthetic fabric, migrating lapels and hard roll lines are all abhorrent concepts to these companies. If those sound like trivial touches, they aren’t. You can just tell when a man is wearing a fine suit. Light bends around him the right way.
But a man doesn’t live at proms, weddings and business meetings. He deserves to feel just as confident at his leisure, which is why Bill’s carries stylish yet comfortable jeans by 34 Heritage, SoCal inspired casual wear by johnnie-O and TravisMathew, refined sportswear by Peter Millar, shoes by Johnston & Murphy, and activewear by Vuori, 7Diamonds and Tasc Performance. Bill’s offers a selection of shirts by Howler Brothers, designed in Texas for men who know how to enjoy life when they aren’t occupying high stations in it. Go to Bill’s for Swiss-made tennis shoes by On, and you will see that orthopedics and aesthetics can live together on your feet in perfect harmony.
“Owning a third-generation business like mine feels as much like I’m passing down a legacy as I am working a job,” said Billy. “I’ve read that the odds of a business lasting as long as Bill’s Toggery are ten against one. I’ve kept up with modern times without sacrificing a small-store vibe that’s been almost a hundred years in the making. Our success breeds a certain confidence that shines through in every service we provide.”
Bill’s Toggery is located at 138 Lewis Street S in downtown Shakopee. They are open Monday through Saturday and by special appointment. You may learn more about the locally owned men’s clothier atbillstoggery.com.