By Brittany Maiava
Simply defined, tailoring is an art form that utilizes specific methods of cutting, fitting and altering clothes to each individual’s specific measurements. It gained its popularity when people began to trade-in the long custom of wearing elaborately draped fabric in favor of cutting and sewing together a piece that better accentuated the body. Tailors, along with weavers and fabric dyers became sought after to create these coveted and made-to-fit garments.
In today’s fast paced and tech driven world however, society as a whole has become less patient and more demanding of immediate and satisfying results. Hence the practice of walking into any old mall or boutique and simply buying what we want, usually in a pre-measured and severely generalized size. Unfortunately, this means that more often than not, young men today are shopping in stores that offer relatively low cost and seemingly decent looking suits. They have a hope of finding one that fits them well enough to look as if it is a high-end product and was finely tailored with their fitting needs in mind. We have all seen the disastrous results that often ensue. At Otrebla’s Tailoring & Haberdashery in Haymount, one may discover that this is not such a lost art form after all.
Customers will walk-in under a bold red and white striped awning and into Otrebla’s Tailoring. Inside, the vintage signs, Ralph Lauren writing desks and antique furniture lend themselves to an almost old-timey feel. According to Horace Hudson, the longtime business and accounting manager at Otrebla’s, this was done on purpose so as to create an atmosphere where clients can walk-in and no-longer feel as if they are in Fayetteville but rather in a vintage New York or California shop. Business at Otrebla’s Tailoring & Haberdashery is always booming. In fact the only down time that they have is maybe a six week window around November where, if they are lucky, business is slightly slower than usual only to pick up again for the holiday party season. Other than that small lull, there is always something going on. Everything from a groom coming in to pick up the custom tailored suit or tux that they will wear during their ‘I dos,’ to groups of young gentlemen picking out their prom and graduation attire, to traditional Indian and Pakistani garbs coming in for alterations, a cross-section of cliental keep the professional and passionate staff, with their eye for precise measurements and meticulous detail quietly working and sewing away. Otrebla’s offers complete wardrobe planning, wedding consulting and fine tailoring, as well as tuxedo sales and rentals.
Alberto himself came to Washington DC from Trinidad when he was just 16 years old. When asked what it was like to leave behind the island country for America, Alberto admitted, “all I knew at the time was Trinidad so it was a big change, especially stepping off the plane in the middle of winter. I had never seen snow before.” Not only did he end up falling in love with D.C., but that was also where he met his wife, who is originally from the Fayetteville area. “She worked at a big industrial company in the city and yes, it was pretty much love at first sight.” He had come to attend Howard University and live with his brother who had previously moved to the US along with thirteen other members of his family. However, when Alberto arrived he had missed the deadline to start the semester. Because of his experience working in his uncle's tailoring shop back in Trinidad, Alberto decided to attend a trade school for tailoring and design in the city while he waited out the semester. As luck would have it, he never did attend Howard, but continued to pursue his gift of tailoring.
“When I left D.C., they were just starting to build the subway,” he recalled. Since moving back to Fayetteville with his wife, Alberto and his business have also seen its fair share of evolution. Some long term residents of Fayetteville may remember Otrebla’s from the Dick Street days where the store front stood for over 20 years. The journey to their current and final location was a long road to include several store fronts in and around downtown Fayetteville and along the 100 block of Hay Street. Back when the city received funds to reconstruct downtown, Alberto experienced a difficulty in remaining accessible to his customers while also maintaining a stable business location. “Every time I turned around they were digging up to the street,” he said and so he continued to relocate in order to save his customers an unpleasant trek through the mud and the inability to drive through the construction taking place. These moves wouldn’t be the last time that Alberto made big changes for the benefit of his customers.
Alberto opened the Haberdashery in what was once the Stedman House, in response to customer complaints that they had to drive a long distance to find the high quality merchandise they preferred. Instead of having his loyal following continue to suffer, he opened the doors of Otrebla’s Haberdashery Labor Day 2014. This expansion allows Alberto to carry the collections of several high end designers to include Baroni, Mantoni and Stefano Milano. In addition to suiting and custom tailored shirts, a customer can find well-made cufflinks, suspenders, high-end hosiery and bowties which they will actually teach you how to tie for yourself or offer an extensive pre-tied collection for your convenience.
After cultivating the successful start to the Haberdashery, Alberto doesn’t have any other big moves in mind. “This is it, we are home.” For now, this is where he will retire. “I think that my customers here are fantastic and they treat me well,” he said fondly. When asked what he would say if he could tell his customers one thing, Alberto said “I appreciate the patrons and I look forward to tailoring and pleasing them for the longest while.” It is very evident, when listening to Alberto talk about his customers that he feels extraordinarily close to each and every one of them especially in light of the fact that he gets to work with generations and watch as a gentleman, for whom he took his very first set of measurements, bring in his son for his own first fitting experience. “It definitely is a privilege,” he smiles.
Alberto and his team have created a legacy here in Fayetteville. The doctors, the lawyers and the high-ranking soldiers will continue to support their establishment as one of the premier locations for a custom tailored project.
Otrebla’s Tailoring & Haberdashery is located at 1218 Fort Bragg Rd, Fayetteville, NC 28305 910.323.0264.