Established in 1966, Camillo Tuxedo Specialist in Norwalk is celebrating its 50-year anniversary this January, and the Wilton residents who own it are offering a special milestone deal to their customers.
Anyone who in January books a wedding with Camillo Tuxedo Specialist will be charged a preferred price and receive a free tuxedo rental for the groom, and rentals at half-price for his father and the father of the bride.
Camillo Tramontana is a second-generation tailor. He immigrated to the United States from Palermo in 1959.
“When I was about 7 or 8, instead of playing with toys, I would spend time at my uncle’s tailor shop playing with the fabric needles,” Tramontana said. “One day, he sat me down and said, ‘Be serious; I’m going to teach you.’”
When he first came to America, equipped with his uncle’s skill set and ready to learn the English language, Tramontana moved to Brooklyn and found work as a custom tailor in a shop in Manhattan. But after a couple of years, “I decided I wanted to work for myself,” he said.
Tramontana moved to Connecticut, and though he did have to work for several others before truly becoming his own boss, in 1966 the day finally arrived, and the Sicilian native opened a store in Norwalk.
He named it after himself, and Camillo Tuxedo Specialist, according to Tramontana, saw instant success. “Professionals were going all the way to New York for custom suits. I opened up a store down the road, and they started coming to me.”
But Camillo Tuxedo Specialist abandoned its custom tailor service shortly thereafter, by a margin of about six months, due curiously to a suggestion made by a door-to-door salesman.
“One day, a guy came in here trying to sell tuxedos,” Tramontana said, “and he suggested that I do away with my custom-tailored suits and instead keep it to rentals and tailoring and alterations.”
Overworked and timestrapped, Tramontana said, he was inclined to run with that stranger’s serendipitous suggestion, but the actual change he ended up making to his model would, according to him, define the business’s success for the next five decades.
“The reason why we’ve been successful, I think, is that unlike anyone, we offer thoroughly tailored and altered, almost custom- made, rentals,” Tramontana said. “We keep a large selection of top designers in our inventory, and if the suits don’t fit, we make them.”
“We keep things up to date,” he added. “We feature different styles all the time; that helps too — that, and the word of mouth. We wouldn’t be where we are today if not for all the customer referrals.”
Camillo Tuxedo Specialist, which Tramontana co-owns with his wife, Angela, has a location in Orange in addition to the one in Norwalk, and that’s where you’ll find her during the workweek.
While Camillo Tramontana stays busy behind the workbench at the couple’s Norwalk store, Angela Tramontana manages the one in Orange. “She handles the accounts, takes care of the office — she does everything,” he said. The Tramontanas live in Wilton, and have for 40 years. Their two daughters attended the schools here from elementary through high school graduation.
“We give special pricing to Wilton High School,” Tramontana said. “They often rent our tuxedos in bulk for choral, band and orchestra, and for proms,” he said.
A lot can change in 50 years, especially people. When Tramontana looks back at his career, it’s not the growth or progress of Camillo Tuxedo Specialist as a business that he first describes; it’s the growth and progress of his customers.
“When I first started in Norwalk,” he said, “kids from the local high schools would come in as 17-yearolds for prom tuxedos. When they got engaged, they came back for their wedding tuxedos. Or you’ll hear, ‘You did my parents’ wedding; now it’s my turn — I want you to do mine.’ It’s very rewarding, to hear that.”
Tramontana and his wife are both in their 70s, and the couple has been married for 55 years. But working daily in the stores, at least for the tailor, is a labor of love.
“I love it,” he said. “I don’t ever want to retire. I like what I’m doing and I like the challenge of achieving the perfect fit. It makes me proud.”