From the Japanese kimono to the West African boubou, similar tunic-like garments have appeared all over the world in many different cultures. However, the specific style of kaftan we know today likely originated from the middle east.
Ottoman sultans wore extravagant kaftans made with expensive fabrics as a way to display their power and rank. In a gesture of political expertise, sultans also gifted fine kaftans to important generals and guests. Kaftans eventually made their way to North Africa, where they became a staple garment in traditional dress.
Starting at the turn of the 20th century, Kaftans slowly started making their way into western culture and have become a staple in women’s wardrobes around the world.