Regional brand SemSem is winning over stars in Abu Dhabi

Hollywood star and comedian Tiffany Haddish took to Instagram over the weekend to show love for regional brand SemSem. (File photo: FP)
Updated 25 November 2018
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Regional brand SemSem is winning over stars in Abu Dhabi

DUBAI: Hollywood star and comedian Tiffany Haddish took to Instagram over the weekend to show love for regional brand SemSem after she was saved from a fashion mishap in Abu Dhabi — and she isn’t the only star hyping up the label, with US blogger Brittany Xavier showing off its clothes in a series of social media snaps from the capital.
After a grueling day at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix racetrack, “Girls Trip” actress Haddish took to Instagram to narrate a story that sounds familiar to anyone with a busy schedule and no personal stylist on hand (yes, that’s most of us).
“Having a great time in Abu Dhabi at a fancy dinner with @chappelledave @christucker and @luxurylaw,” she posted, referring to comedian Dave Chappelle, actor Chris Tucker and stylist Law Roach. “But let me tell you. I went to the race track today and didn’t have time to go back to my hotel and change. I was feeling so bad because everyone was dressed so nice and I wasn’t.

“Then I started talking to my new best friend @albynyc (Alby Riganello) and he was like I got a dress in my bag and he pulls out this beautiful @semsem dress and saves the day!”
Founder Abeer Al-Otaiba, who originally hails from Egypt, launched the brand in 2015 and it quickly became a celebrity favorite, worn by Hollywood stars like Blake Lively and Kourtney Kardashian.
Showing at Paris Fashion Week and written about in Vogue magazine, SemSem has brought jet-set chic to the ready-to-wear market — and judging by Haddish’s post, the label has a new fan.
Xavier, the fashion blogger behind Thrifts and Threads, was also on hand to show off the label’s colorful creations in Abu Dhabi. She took to Instagram over the weekend to show off a varied selection of outfits by the edgy brand, including a 1970’s-inspired, sparkling pantsuit.
Haddish and Xavier were in the city to celebrate the Formula 1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix weekend — four days of races and concerts by the likes of Guns N’ Roses, Post Malone, Sam Smith and The Weeknd.


Pakistani tailor adds former US president to star-studded list of clients

Updated 15 February 2019
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Pakistani tailor adds former US president to star-studded list of clients

  • The 36-year-old outfitter has built a customer list of famous names from the sporting, show business and political worlds
  • His family enterprise was established more than 100 years ago and operated from large shop premises in Kolkata, India

KARACHI: It is probably safe to say that tailor to the stars Sarfraz Akbar has the market for celebrity clients all sewn up.

The 36-year-old outfitter has built a customer list of famous names from the sporting, show business and political worlds through his reputation for making high-quality garments.

And now Akbar, who works for his family business at shops in an affluent neighborhood of Pakistan’s port city of Karachi, can add a former American president to his star-studded client base.

During a trip to the US in July last year, he was invited by an American-Pakistani friend to meet with George W. Bush.

“I was super-excited when along with my wife and daughters we boarded my friend’s private jet and flew from Houston to Dallas,” Akbar told Arab News.

After taking measurements of the former US president, he returned to Pakistan and made several suits for him, before dispatching them to Dallas in December 2018.

“My happiness doubled when I got a call from the US informing me that the former president had appreciated my work after wearing the suits,” Akbar said.

Akbar’s father Mohammed said his son had built up a distinguished list of Pakistani personalities he has worked for. 

“By earning praise from George W. Bush, my son has not only made me proud but it’s also a matter of pride for all Pakistanis.”

The youngest of three brothers, Akbar has brought fame to the family name and business, his father added.

The family enterprise was established more than 100 years ago and operated from large shop premises in Kolkata. The family moved from the Indian city after the inception of Pakistan.

The business now has two shops under the “Ambassador” brand name in the Zamzama district of Karachi. 

“We could have opened dozens of outlets, but we believe in quality. The materials we use are imported and we focus on precision,” said Akbar. 

“It’s handmade, customized work. We don’t sell readymade stuff.

“However, we’re now getting people coming to us from other cities wanting to have their wardrobes from the tailor of George W. Bush. Some clients even ask to have their photos taken with me.”

Akbar said he has always had big ambitions. Following matriculation in 1999, he continued his studies but opted at the same time to focus on the family business with a view to taking it to new heights after his graduation.

When the Indian cricket team toured Pakistan during 2005-2006, Akbar made clothes for all the Indian players. 

“Almost all the Pakistani players including Wasim Akram, Misbah-ul-Haq, Sarfraz Ahmed and Shahid Afridi — the latter being a regular customer – have worn our wardrobes too,” Akbar said.

He also designed kurta shalwar clothing for West Indian player and Peshawar Zalmi skipper, Darren Sammy, during the last season of the Pakistan Super League.

Akbar also has a long list of political clients including Pakistan’s former leader Pervez Musharraf, incumbent President Dr. Arif Alvi, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, and Sindh Gov. Imran Ismail. “I made a waistcoat for Imran Khan after he was sworn in as the premier of Pakistan,” he said.

Summing up his achievements to date, Akbar said: “You can be proud of yourself and your family, but you just need to focus on your work and work hard.”