KARACHI :Sarfraz Akbar, a 36-year-old tailor, stitches outfits for hundreds of costumers on a daily basis from his shops in the affluent Zamzama neighborhood of Pakistan’s port city of Karachi.
Those who he has dressed up and designed clothes for include government officials, senior politicians, TV stars and famous cricketers.However, his happiness knew no bounds when, during a US visit in July last year, his American-Pakistani friend asked him to tailor clothes for former president George W. Bush.
“I was super excited when I, alongwith my wife and daughters, flew from Houston to Dallas on my friend’s private jet,” Akbar told Arab News. Once there and after taking measurements of the former president, he flew back to Pakistan, stitched the suits and shipped it to Dallas in December last year.
“My happiness doubled when I got a call from US informing me that president Bush had appreciated my work after wearing the suits,” Akbar said.
It was a proud moment for Muhammad Akbar, Sarfraz’s father who opened the shop in 1971. “By earning praise from George W. Bush, my son has not only made me proud but it’s matter of pride for all Pakistanis too,” he told Arab News.
Youngest among his three siblings, Sarfraz has earned a lot of fame for the family too, his father said while looking at his son, adding that the family has been in the business for more than a century now. “We had a big shop in Calcutta [in India] before the inception of Pakistan,” he said.
Together they own two shops, namely the ‘Ambassador tailors and drapers’ and ‘Ambassador, the custom’ in the Zamzama area. Sarfaraz, however, says expansion was never on his mind.
“We could have opened dozens of outlets, but we believe in quality. The stuff and materials we use is imported and we focus on precision,” he said. “It’s handmade, customized work. We don’t sell readymade stuff,” he said.
“However, now people have started coming from different cities and say they want to have their wardrobes from George Bush’s tailor. Some call to know my availability. Several clients want to take photos with me.”
Sarfraz, who believes in dreaming big, said it always seems impossible until it’s done. “After completing my matriculation in 1999, I continued my studies but opted to focus on the family job at the same time,” he said, adding that now he plans to take his family business to greater heights
When India’s cricket team toured Pakistan in 2005-2006, all the players had gotten their clothes tailored by him. “Almost all Pakistani players, including Wasim Akram, Misbah-ul-Haq, Sarfraz Ahmed and Shahid Afridi – the latter being a regular customer – have worn our clothes,” Akbar said, adding that his latest accomplishment was when he designed a traditional Shalwar Kameez for Darren Sammy — the West Indies player and skipper of Peshawar Zalmi league team — during the last season of the Pakistan Super League.
“I have tailored clothes for former President Pervez Musharraf, President Dr. Arif Alvi, Prime Minister Imran Khan, and Governor Imran Ismail among others. For PM Khan, I designed a waistcoat after he was sworn in as the prime minister of Pakistan,” he said.
Sarfraz says he’s proud of all his achievements. However, his defining moment continues to be president Bush appreciating his creations.
“You can be proud of yourself... you just need to focus and work hard.”