Menswear News

Local Retail Legend Al's Formal Wear Sold to Iowa Company

Al and Lillian Gaylor opened the first Al's in Houston in 1957, renting tuxes for $5.95.

By Sarah Rufca Nielsen and Nick Bell September 21, 2017

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Al’s Formal Wear, the retailer that has outfitted Houston men for special occasions for generations, has been acquired by Iowa-based retailer Tip Top Tux. The sale adds 54 Al’s Formal Wear locations spread throughout Texas, Oklahoma, Colorado and Louisiana to Tip Top Tux, whose 18 current stores are centered in and around the Midwest.

Al’s has long been a mainstay in the Houston region. Alan and Lillian Gaylor first opened an Al's in Houston in 1957, five years after Lillian's brother—another Al, Alan Sankary—started the business in Fort Worth. The Gaylors grew the business from a modest downtown shop on McKinney that rented tuxes for $5.95 into the dominant formalwear retailer and tuxedo rental operations in Texas and one of the biggest independent retailers nationwide.


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Though the two Als split the family business into separate companies in 1978, the Houston-based Gaylors bought out the Dallas branch in 1998, bringing all the Al's stores back under a single umbrella once again. In 2001, son Stuart Gaylor took over business operations and led a major expansion into new markets; Al died in 2008 at the age of 81.

Tip Top Tux says they plan to streamline the shipping and return process while expanding the company’s online platform, with the increased size allowing them to compete with national chains. According to the Sioux City Journal, both companies will continue to operate under their existing names, and the integration process is set to begin in 2018. 

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