Worn around the world, the kaftan has long had a coveted fashion and cultural status. However, in Morocco, it has a special meaning. The dress is worn exclusively by women, both as everyday attire and couture, depending on the material. The Culture Trip presents a story of one of the basic products of Moroccan clothing.
The first mention of caftan in Morocco appeared in the 16th century, although caftan had been used in the Middle East and Persia. before this time It was during the Abbassides’ reign that the garment made its way to Andalusia in the ninth century, the western Islamic region that was finally ruled by the Moroccan Berber dynasty Almohad. After the Spanish Inquisition, which led to the forced conversion to Christianity or the expulsion of Muslims and Jews from Andalusia, many residents fled near Morocco, bringing their traditional attire with them. And the required materials – silk thread and fine fabrics – were produced to create the rich textiles.
Moroccan kaftans are often representative of the various cultural identities and influences of cultural heritage. Many of the necessary elements are produced in the medinas even today. It is not uncommon to see men preparing the colourful threads, women selling the buttons they have prepared at home and necessary for the finishing touches to the haberdashery shopkeepers, and workshops of belt manufacturers where the embroidered colourful accessories are prepared to complete the look.
While cotton kaftans abound throughout the medina in coloured cotton with accented seams and ornaments, these are best suited for the house or on hot summer days. Kaftan, however, should not be confused with djellaba, a traditional dress worn by men and women in Morocco. While kaftan and djellaba are very similar, the difference between the two is that the latter has no hood. Nor should the kaftan be confused with the two-piece takchita with a belt, a truly elegant outfit. The defining characteristics of a caftan are its long sleeves, often worn with heels given the length of the cut.
The most elegant kaftan styles are reserved for special occasions and wedding celebrations and are used with great pride by all social classes. In fact, true fashionistas turn to their designer for a handmade dress that is often adorned with embroidery and using the best fabrics that represent the individual style of women.