London, Jan 26 : British Prime Minister Gordon Brown's wife Sarah picked Indian designers Abu Jani and Sandeep Khosla to make ensembles for her on the couple's trip to India. However, the road to international acclaim has certainly not been an easy one for the renowned designers.
Jani grew up in Bombay in the 1960s. His Muslim family ran a hardware business, which they wanted him to join.
"But I knew very early on that I wanted to do something creative. I was good at drawing and I got beaten up on many occasions, in school and at home, for sketching all the time," Timesonline quoted Jani, as telling on an interview.
Khosla's family, on the other hand, were refugees from Pakistan after Partition in 1947.
"They lost everything," he said.
Like Jani, his family were keen for him to join their leather business. But like his partner, Khosla knew it was not for him. He worked for the business for only six months before he decided to go it alone - with fabrics rather than leather.
"I bought fabrics with my stipend and, with a local tailor, I worked on ten garments made to my designs . . . and that was just a beginning," he said.
Khosla took his ten pieces of clothing and moved to Delhi to try to use them to set himself up as a designer.
"Eventually they ended up as gifts because no one bought them," he said.
Meanwhile, Jani was distributing leaflets for anticorrosion paint at a filling station in Bombay.
"At that point in time, a career in fashion was nowhere on the scene," he said.
Jani finally found a job with Xerxes Bhatena, a designer. Throughout the early 1980s he progressed through jobs in clothes exporting, embroidery workshops and, finally, freelance design for the women of Bombay.
"That was a big thing in those days. Housewives made salwar kameez sets at home and held sales . . . I used to provide them my design sketches at a rate of 100 rupees (£1.28) each," he said.
In Delhi Khosla was offered a small space in a clothes shop, where he began to sell his own clothing line. "But that venture lasted exactly one year before I realised this was not it. I felt I was meant for bigger things. I've always wanted to be somebody who makes a mark," he said.
He moved to Bombay and in August 1986 met Jani and, Abu Jani Sandeep Khosla was born.
"When we started Abu and I had just 500,000 rupees in our pockets. We said, 'It's going to do what it's going to do'. We were never afraid of taking risks," he said.
Besides Mrs Brown, the pair has a line-up of well-known clientele, including Dame Judi Dench, Dame Maggie Smith, Darcey Bussell, the dancer, and Sophie Marceau, the actress.
In their homeland, Jani and Khosla are surrounded by the Indian Bollywood stars. In a span of nine years, they have established their first London store, their British profits have doubled, and ast summer they appeared in BusinessWeek's list of the 50 most powerful Indians.