Henry Alfonsa Smith is an accomplished custom tailor for Gilberto Designs, the house of custom style and old world craftsmanship in New York. His recent accomplishments include custom made suits and tuxedoes for The Ice Man Cometh (with Denzel Washington), Kinky Boots, Hello Dolly, and Motown.
Born and raised in Harlem, Henry earned a Bachelor of Arts from the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT), and certification in Ladies and Men Tailoring. Smith also worked at FIT’s Apparel Production Department as the sewing machine technician responsible for advanced technology, which included computerized fabric spreading, cutting, serging and sewing machines.
During the 1990s, Smith relocated to Atlanta, Georgia where he established and managed a custom tailoring for 17 years. Among his clients were Dan Reeves of the Atlanta Falcons and Dwight Eubanks of Real Housewives of Atlanta.
Smith is a protégé the late Marion William Anderson, Sr, the Harlem garment industry icon and educator who established Manhattanville Needle Trade School on West 141st Street, where he made suits for Harlem’s elite. As a fifteen-year-old high school student, Henry studied with Anderson, eventually becoming his assistant. Smith helped Marion run the Trade School and the two remained close friends until Anderson’s death in 2015.
As a trainer for SoHarlem’s Community Training Institute, Henry Alfonsa Smith keeps Marion’s legacy alive by sharing with trainees and apprentices the skills and lessons Anderson instilled: If you can sew you can eat.