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By Katy Caric
Kaftans might just be the best piece of clothing, ever – they’re roomy, they’re comfy, and they look great dressed up with a pair of heels or thrown over a bathing suit. Each summer, they trend so hard, it’s difficult to believe they’ve actually been around for thousands of years! Yep, I’m talking about the kaftan – the easy-to-wear garment that’s of ancient Mesopotamian origin and has been worn by many Middle-Eastern peoples for several centuries.
They became popular in the West during the 1950s, when fashion designers such as Christian Dior and Balenciaga adapted the kaftan as a loose evening gown or robe in their collections. Later, American hippie fashions of the late 1960s and the 1970s often borrowed ethnic styles, and this was then appropriated by fashion designers, who marketed lavish, Moroccan-style kaftans as hostess gowns for casual at-home entertaining. Once the jet set, including Diana Vreeland, Babe Paley, and Talitha Getty rocked them, well, the general public wanted a kaftan, too.
Now for us, ethical kaftans are considered something of a summer essential. Here, I’ve rounded up 10 of my favourite ethical kaftans to take you from the beach to the evening and on to the city.
10+ Gorgeously Floaty Ethical Kaftans for Summer
Made from 100% handwoven silk, this kaftan comes in a rainbow of gorgeous colour! It’s a luxurious piece for the beach that can easily be dressed up with a pair of strappy, heeled sandals. If you’re not familiar with A Peace Treaty, the brand works with artisans in developing countries to preserve local traditions and provide a sustainable income.
This caftan from Figue is a classic fit with some tassel twist. I love the marine blue colour combination with the tassel embellishments that really give this caftan some pizazz. To create its artisanal collections, Figue partners with communities of fairly paid artisans around the world. For example, this kaftan was crafted in India with local partner Orange International.
This simple piece is the type of vacation piece that will look fresh for years to come. It’s handcrafted to an ankle-skimming silhouette, and features a braided rope tassel that drapes from the neckline towards the waist – a nod to the label’s artisanal ethos.
The perfect ethical boho caftan selection. I love this caftan for it’s bluesy feel. It’s made ethically in London with printed gorgeous crepe de chine silk. And you need not worry about sizing. Caftans are the ultimate body inclusive piece, one size fits all.
5. Pippa Holt
Ethical fashion designer Pippa Holt calls kaftans her ‘holiday heroes’, and no wonder: they are the perfect packing item, and work day or night. This mini kaftan is just the ticket for standout ethical holiday fashion. It’s handmade in Mexico by artisan weavers.
Vacations are a great time to slow down, and ‘slow’ is infused into every inch of this kaftan, since each new stitching technique takes 2-3 years to perfect. No wonder Anna only introduces one new collection a year. Everything is made from natural cotton or silk and hand crocheted and dyed by artisanal family practitioners. Pair it with a sustainable swimsuit and straw hat for some great ethical beach style.
Inspired by the 70s, this colourful kaftan is made of weighty cotton and is a great casual piece to have in your wardrobe. The details are all hand crocheted by fairly paid artisans in Bali.
8. Rujuta Sheth
Whether you’re covering your skin for the sun at a seaside resort, or hitting the city streets, this breezy Rujuta Sheth caftan will help keep you cool, it’s handmade sustainably with eco-friendly dyes making the pretty intricate patterns. It’s airy and you can definitely catch the breeze with those billowy sleeves.
Caftans are just for the beach! This Sachin & Babi caftan is definitely fit for the red carpet or a fancy evening soirée. It’s silk and covered in sequins and produced in Sachin & Babi’s family owned factory in Mumbai. Pair it with turquoise accessories and vegan sandals for a chic and comfortable evening look.
Easy breezy city style. I love this look for a casual day at the office or a stylish summer brunch. Pair it with some cute vegan slides and a straw bag for maximum summer vibes. This Pondichérie kaftan is made from hand-dyed Indian sourced organic cotton, and Pondichere places specific emphasis on supporting the craftswomen who make them.
11. Mara Hoffman
This super-eco-friendly and vegan designer has a myriad of gorgeous beachy kaftans, but one of my favourite styles is her off-the-shoulder line – this style, plus the leg slits, ensure that your kaftan doesn’t make you look at all dowdy!
12. Wax + Cruz
Made with fair trade handwoven cotton. This XO Caftan by Wax + Cruz is an easy beach piece, and is also multi-seasonal. Pair it with a belt, tights and boots for the colder months.