A sneak-peak on what is Indian Kaftan and some expert tips on styling it the Indian way
(Image: Ajrakh Kaftan from The Loom Studio)
Kaftans have been an influence on Indian Fashion diaspora for a long time, and they continue to be a popular choice for both casual and formal wear. Originally worn by both men and women in the Middle East and Central Asia, the Kaftan was brought to India by the invading Persian and Mughal rulers. Over time, it has evolved to reflect the unique style and culture of India.
One of the key features of Indian Kaftans is their versatility. They can be dressed up or down, depending on the occasion. A simple cotton Kaftan can be worn to the beach or for a casual outing, while a more elaborate silk or chiffon Kaftan is perfect for weddings, parties, or other formal events. They are a great option for women who prefer loose, comfortable clothing.
Kaftan forms across the Globe
Over time, Kaftan has evolved from traditional garment into various modern styles & designs and became a source of expression for many noted designers. Below are some authentic Kaftan forms from across the world:
Moroccan Kaftan: Typically made of premium fabrics, and detailed with embroidery, beads, and sequins work, usually worn for special occasions such as weddings and festivals. Sub-variants: Meknassi, Rbati, Fassi and Chamali
Algerian Kaftan: Also known as the "Djellaba", usually has a hood, long sleeves, and a front opening provided with buttons or a zipper. Often worn with a belt or sash to clinch in the waist and add a bit of shape to the otherwise flowing silhouette. Sub-variants: Kaftan El Kadi, Kaftan El Krenfla, Kaftan Mhirzat, Kaftan El Dey and Areftan
Turkish Kaftan: This is a variant of Moroccan Kaftan, but is more tailored and fitted, made in premium fabrics with ornamental gold embroideries. This Kaftan variant is now limited as ethnic wear found around Turkish region and worn as a luxurious overdress on weddings.
Nigerian Kaftan: Also known as "Baban Riga" or “Boubou” is a loose-fitting garment that's worn by men. It's made of colorful fabrics such as cotton, silk, or brocade, and it's usually paired with a matching cap.
(Images only for illustration: Sourced)
Gallery (From Top Left to Bottom Right): Forms of Kaftans
Areftan, Heritage Protected by UNESCO
Anissa B. in Algerian 'Kaftan El-Kadi'
Janhvi Kapoor in Bohemian Kaftan
Indian Kaftan: Also known as "Kaftan kurta," is a long tunic-style garment that's made of cotton, linen, chiffon, or silk. It's often embellished with intricate Indian embroidery or block prints. Many Indian designers have contributed to the Indianization of Kaftans by including elements & inspirations from various regional specialty and crafts of India.
Bohemian Kaftan: This Kaftan style draws inspiration from Czech Republican (Bohemian) culture and stands for free-spirited aesthetic that mixes different culture and artistic expressions into an eclectic style that emphasizes on organic elements & nature. The Bohemian Kaftan is a more casual and relaxed version of the traditional garment. It is often made of lightweight fabrics such as cotton or linen and may feature colorful prints or tassels.
European Kaftan: A contemporary and casual-everyday-wear version of Kaftans that is inspired by modern interpretations and changing lifestyle needs
So, what is so Desi about Kaftan?
"Indianizing" a Kaftan refers to incorporating Indian design elements or aesthetics into a Kaftan. This could include using special Indian fabrics or crafts, such as Ikat Kaftan, Shibori Tie and dye Kaftan, Ajrakh or Jamdani Kaftan, along with adding traditional Indian embellishments, such as embroidery, hand block printing, beadwork, or sequins.
Indianizing a Kaftan also involves incorporating traditional Indian patterns, motifs, or colors into the design. Kaftan allows Indian designers to create unique and distinctive garments that reflect India's rich cultural heritage and fashion traditions. It also provides an opportunity to showcase the expertise of Indian textiles and craftsmanship, and to create garments that are well-suited to the country's climate and cultural context at the same time appealing to the fashion aspirations of Indian youth.
Batik Kaftan with asymmetrical hemline
Tie and Dye Kaftan with Jamdani border
Ikat Kaftan with reverse pattern
In recent years, Indian designers have taken a modern twist on the classic Kaftan, incorporating contemporary silhouettes and designs like draped or layered Kaftan design, asymmetrical hemlines, off-the-shoulder styles, and Shirt dress Kaftan which is immensely popular in India and abroad.
Are Kaftans really popular in India?
Kaftans have become increasingly popular in India in recent years, particularly among women who are looking for comfortable and versatile clothing options that are conducive for the country's hot and humid Summers. Many Indian designers and fashion brands now offer a wide range of Kaftans in different styles, fabrics, prints, embroideries and other decorative details, catering to a growing demand Indian Fashion diaspora.
Women Kaftan dress in India are increasingly endorsed by the celebs & popular among the Indian youth who choose to adorn this outfit on special events as well as casual outings. In fact, this is one of the most popular and iconic outfit which features on every red-carpet event held in India & abroad.
Indian version of Kaftans has also gained popularity among tourists, as they offer a comfortable and stylish option along with some fabulous Indian artwork. In summary, Kaftans have become an increasingly popular garment in India due to their comfort, versatility, and style.
“Over decades Kaftans have evolved and become a strong medium of expression of the prevalent social norms & changing mindset of the period.”
Indian Kaftan styling tips
Here are some ways to style a Kaftan with Indian twist:
Traditional Jewelry: Kaftans can be paired with traditional Indian jewelry to create a chic and stylish look. For example, a statement necklace, bracelet, or a matching earring can complement a Kaftan perfectly.
Bold Prints: Kaftans are available in a range of bold & vibrant prints, including Ajrakh, block prints and Shibori tie & dye designs. Pair a printed Kaftan with minimal jewelry to create a statement look that is perfect for any occasion.
Embroidered Details: Many Kaftans feature intricate embroidery and embellishments, making them perfect for special occasions. Pair an embroidered Kaftan with heels and a clutch for a sophisticated and elegant look.
Belted Kaftans: For a more fitted look, a Kaftan can be belted at the waist or worn with a waistband or just elastic fitted to create a more structured silhouette. A belt can also be used to add a pop of color to a plain Kaftan.
Ruffle your Look: Ruffled Kaftans can add a mystic layered look and enhance the flair of the outfit. Pair a ruffled Kaftan with a pair of sandals and a crochet handbag for a stylish and comfortable look.
Kaftan with Headgear Look: A mix-n-match bandana or a straw hat can be draped over head to add a Bohemian style extra layer of elegance to a Kaftan. This is a neo-ethnic way of styling a Kaftan for Summer vacations and can be carried with both plain and printed Kaftans.
Bottom wear choices: If your Kaftan is short or mid length, try pairing it with a Churidar, Jeans or Leggings. Even a long ethnic flared skirt can be a great complimenting option. This will add a touch of traditional Indian style to your outfit.
And there you have it! A simple and stylish way to wear a Kaftan in Indian style.
While choosing your right Kaftan always consider the following:
Right Fabric & trims – Remember comfort is the key!
Right Kaftan Length as per the occasion & context
Right Accessories – Try to maintain the balance & harmony in the overall look
Right handbag – Don’t forget those clutches and crochet handbags
Right footwear – Contrast with the outfit for balanced look
Right makeup – Go for minimal, but immersive styling
Indian Kaftans are great in the sense that it provides a beautiful amalgamation & interpretation of Global Fashion vis-à-vis Indian ethos & culture. From expressive silhouettes to Magical Indian craftmanship, Kaftans in its Indi-avatar have successfully carried the baton of its Desi Swag on many reputed global Fashion portals.
Indeed, the evolution of Indian Kaftans tells the story of influence of the growing Indian diaspora and insinuates its progressive fashion aspirations, at the same time keeping the ethos of our desi-ness intact in our new lifestyle choices.
Indian Kaftans from The Loom Studio
The Loom Studio endeavors to provide this ageless attire with a desi twist by adding a flair of Indian craftsmanship and design. Be it our Ajrakh Kaftans, a dapper Shibori tie and dye Kaftan, or a hand-embroidered variation Kaftan, we strive to bring a fusion of intricate Indian workmanship into this global favorite. We constantly look for ways to represent the clinical dexterity of Indian artisans on Kaftans and give it a desi twist that is just the right mix for your wardrobe.
We at The Loom Studio provide you a seamless experience to select from our choicest collection of women kaftan online with excellent range of premium cotton kaftans for women online.
If you are looking for inspirations for Women Kaftan Dress online or Kaftan tops online, then do check out our Indian Kaftan collections at Kaftans from The Loom Studio