THE STORY OF A MASTER & HIS protégé

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Born and raised in Harlem, Henry Alfonsa Smith 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 & beneficiary of the vast expertise of the late Marion William Anderson, Sr. At sixteen he learned of Mr. Anderson from a fellow Mount Hermon Baptist Church Congregant, Lillian Hardison, who had nominated Smith for Anderson’s tailoring program and offered to cover his full tuition as long as he applied himself in the program.

I thought sewing is for girls...I was sooo offended that she thought I would like tailoring
— Henry A. Smith
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Ms. Hardison’s instinct was correct!

Not only did Henry attend Mr. Anderson’s classes, thirty five years later, they forged a close friendship. He attended classes, eventually becoming Mr. Anderson’s assistant and helped him run the Manhattanville Needle Trade School until Anderson’s death in 2015.

What a blessing!
— Henry A. Smith's thoughts of Mr. Marion W. Anderson

CONTINUING THE LEGACY OF

Marion w.

anderson

 

Marion W. Anderson Sr., an accomplished Master Tailor and Pioneer in NY’s Custom Tailoring community, made custom suits for the elite in Harlem where he remained a longtime resident since moving to New York in 1949. He earned a bachelor’s degree in Adelphi University and graduated from the State University of New York’s Industrial Teaching Training Program. Master Anderson started by teaching at the Empire School of Design, a school that catered to Black World War II veterans, he also taught tailoring to New York City Department of Corrections inmates. In 1960, he convinced the NYC Board of Education to create a tailoring curriculum. He was hired and taught tailoring at Sterling High School in Brooklyn for 33 years.

Master Anderson was the first African American to be licensed by the City of New York to teach tailoring, specializing in men’s clothing. In 1987, he founded Manhattanville Needle Trade School, fulfilling his dream to own and operate a school in Harlem, NY. Anderson continued to teach until his passing in February 2015.

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There’s a part of me that just wants to share what I know. I get pleasure out of sharing my knowledge.
— Marion W. Anderson, Sr.