Vintage Afghan Style (Part 2) – The Afghan Coat & Rock-n-Roll

If you know vintage fashion, then you’ve definitely seen the Afghan coat, one of the biggest fashion trends of the late 60’s and 70’s. Made out of sheep or goat skin on the outside and soft fleece on the inside, the coats were embroidered with fine silk thread in different floral or geometric patterns. It made its first appearance in the West onto the London fashion scene in 1966, just as fashion was becoming more influenced by Eastern looks. Craigs Sams was an English entrepreneur who imported the coats from the Ghazni province and sold them to London boutiques including Granny Takes A Road Trip. One day, a band named The Beatles visited the shop and emerged wearing Afghan coats. Once they were photographed in them, it set off a worldwide trend that continued through the 70’s (even today, you can see variations of this boho-chic coat on the runway and the streets).  The coats were so popular that rockers David Bowie and Eric Buron wore them on their wedding day.

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John Lennon wearing an Afghan coat (now in the Julian Lennon collection)

 

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George Harrison wearing his

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David Bowie wearing an Afghan coat on his wedding day

As demand for the coats expanded globally, the Afghan artisans could not keep a steady supply and eventually crude knock-offs from Turkey and Iran were beginning to flood the market. The knock-offs were made out of skin that had not been cured properly so they smelled really bad and unfortunately gave the coats a bad reputation.

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Old British ads for Afghan coats – gotta love those prices!

 

The coats were originally targeted for the wealthy and chic,  with a new branding known as “hip”. Here are other images of the coats from the past:

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British Lieut. General Sir Frederick Sleigh Roberts on an Afghanistan expedition wearing the coat, 19th century

 

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Georgie Fame wearing one from the Chelsea Antique Market in 1967

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Eric Burdon at his wedding

 

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Models wearing Afghan coats, 1968

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Embroidered Afghan vests featured in Harpers Bazaar, 1968
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Embroidered shearling Afghan coats, Vogue 1971

The Kinks wearing Afghan coats in their “Apeman” video: