By Lisa Capobianco
Since the age of seven, Southington resident Alessandro Gaudio has always had a needle and thread in his hand. By the age of 14, Alessandro, who goes by the nickname “Alex,” knew how to make pants from scratch. When he turned 18 years old, Alex opened his own tailor shop in his hometown Amorosi, Italy, where he started to make suits from scratch.
“I love everything about tailoring,” Alex said.
Alex’s love for sewing began at age seven when his uncle, Rudolph Gaudio, introduced him to the tailoring business. Rudolph Gaudio taught his nephew the ins and outs of sewing in his own tailor shop before immigrating to America in 1952. As time passed by, Alex decided to take his passion to New Haven, in 1965 where he made suits for Arthur M. Rosenberg Co. In 1980 he worked at Riccio’s Clothing Store in downtown Southington, until the business closed nine years later.
Although he came to America with only a suitcase filled with clothes, Alex was determined to become a successful tailor. Since 1989, Alex has served countless clients in his own tailor shop called, “Gaudio’s Custom Tailoring,” located in his house on Oak Street.
“After so many years, everyone likes me, everyone knows me,” Alex said.
Wearing black dress pants and a button down shirt paired with a black and white striped bow tie, Alex works from his own basement every day while Italian soccer games can be heard in the background from his TV.
There is no need for clients to make an appointment with Alex via phone call, he welcomes everyone to just stop by any time they need something altered or fitted. Between formal dresses, dress pants and suits, Alex can alter and reconstruct clothes for nearly every occasion including weddings, funerals and graduations. Bankers, teachers, doctors, TV personalities and families have turned to the 75-year-old tailor for service. Every time Michael Gaudio, Alex’s son, makes an errand in town, local residents recognize his last name immediately.
“Wherever I go, everyone knows [my father],” Michael said.
The son of both a tailor and a seamstress, Michael used to attend school wearing homemade, custom pants. Michael recalls how embarrassed he felt as a kid while his peers wore jeans to class and other clothes that were in style at the time. By the time he reached high school, Michael wore what he wanted, but his father teased him for not wearing custom, dress pants. Looking back, Michael now understands why his father cared so much about dressing well.
“I think society is changing. It doesn’t matter how you’re dressed,” Michael said. “There’s a huge need for [tailoring]. I actually wish I got into it when I was younger.”
Today Alex still does not own a pair of jeans or sneakers, which he refuses to wear. He feels more comfortable wearing a shirt and bow tie, even when he mows the lawn. One year Alex’s family bought him a pair of jeans for his birthday, but he chucked them in less than 20 minutes.
“I wore them for ten minutes and threw them away,” Alex said with a chuckle.
Michael said he is proud of what his father was able to accomplish at such a young age. He sees the joy that clients bring to his father’s face every day.
“[My father] does [tailoring] because he likes people,” Michael said. “It makes him happy.”
Alex’s work also brings a smile to his clients’ faces. Michael Blanco, a Cheshire resident who has been a loyal client for at least five years, said Alex’s business is “terrific.” He recently picked up two pairs of pants that Alex altered, and dropped off four more pairs of pants because of the tailor’s quality of work.
“Alex really cares about you,” Blanco said. “He cares about the way you look to make sure it’s right.”
The end of summer is a quiet time for Alex Gaudio’s sewing machine even though about seven to ten clients walk through his doors every day. He usually gets busy in April, May and October. Although Alex has been sewing for more than 65 years, he said he is not ready to retire any time soon.
“I want to do this job for 30 more years if I’m okay.”