What is a Kaftan?

Royal, Traditional Moroccan Caftan

Kaftan, also known as Caftan, has been a popular form of modest Islamic clothing for centuries in several cultures across the world. Kaftan was originally worn by men as Arabic wear in the Middle East.

History of Kaftan

Chikankari Kaftan with dramatic bell sleeves

Did you know kaftans were only worn by royalty in ancient times? Yes, the earlier kaftans dated as far back as the 12th century were worn by the Sultans of the Ottoman Empire as a symbol of status and power. Kaftan doesn’t have one single origin, but the traditional, exquisitely embellished Kaftan that we know today is known to have originated in Mesopotamia (present-day Iraq, Kuwait, Turkey and Syria). These regal and luxurious kaftans were made from rich fabrics and adorned with gold and silver metallic thread works. By the late 17th century, kaftans became fashionable among the middle classes, and gradually the fashion was picked up by other cultures and countries like Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar, Oman, Bahrain, Egypt, Morocco, Libya, Algeria, Iran, etc. Eventually, kaftans became a staple in the Arabic world. Today, barring a few cultures, kaftans are predominantly worn by women. This modest wear slowly gained popularity in the Western fashion world, giving rise to a number of adapting styles and fashion, also doubling up as evening gowns. Free-flowing yet stylish, the variations of this bellowing beauty were even adopted by high-end designers like Christian Dior and Balenciaga. The kaftan has now become well-accepted couture wear throughout the world.

About Kaftan

Zari embroidered kaftan with embellishments and a princess panel

The authentic, traditional kaftans of the Middle East and African origins are long and luxurious, crafted from brightly coloured, rich fabrics and adorned with elaborate embroidery, beautiful patterns and striking embellishments. Over time, kaftans have undergone a series of fashion evolution. These timeless couture kaftans represent a perfect blend of traditional values and modern trends. Modern kaftans of today are loose-fitting, lightweight tunic-style dresses, but most kaftans are long and layered and they tend to have flowy, flared silhouettes, long sleeves and modest necklines. Embroidery plays a very important part in designing kaftans, but printed kaftans have become equally popular and have been embraced by modern women for their casual, comfortable style and versatility.

Kaftan today

This timeless, luxurious garment can be worn to any social occasion because of its exquisiteness. They can be worn as evening gowns or evening dresses because of their royal, luxurious style. No longer restricted as traditional, modest wear for Arabic women, this versatile  Islamic clothing has become big on the international fashion scene with its modern style and look. There is a kaftan for every occasion, from weddings to beachwear. Kaftans have emerged as one of the most popular summer wear in recent times all over the world. Bold and bright to soft pastels, fitted to loose, short to long, ornate designs to prints, floral to abstracts, there is no dearth of choice if you are looking to add these luxurious Arabic wear to your collection. Every woman rightfully deserves to own this versatile piece of clothing. Accessories or not, just choose your style and get ready to take on the world.