THE MAKING OF A KAFTAN //
A LOVE STORY

Kaftko's founders story is a rare tale of joy in a sea of...well, 2020. It tells the origin of our first print, and how the craziest ideas sometimes just win.

Picture this.

It's late summer. The setting is Fire Island because duh. Oday and Kyle are watching the last rays of light give way to a colorful sunset. The sounds of the day partying fade away from their poolside intimate conversations.


"You were a total lady bear last night - turning your top into a dress!" laughed Kyle.


"I do love to embrace my feminine side," Oday responds, giggling to himself.


Oday had been a fashion designer for decades, but he still loved to show off his draping skills. He had a lifelong love affair with watching gowns fall and move just right on all the women he'd dressed. He knew every cut and seam and fabric that was needed to create that moment. Slip in. Zip up. Turn around. And there. A smile of pure satisfaction and joy on her face - the feeling of being completely in love with existing in your own skin. Best. Feeling. Ever.


"You know what I love?" asked Kyle. 


"No, what do you love, Ky?" Oday smiles.


Kyle lifts his drink and says pointedly, "Golden Girls. And Kaftans." 


"Oh my God, I love designing kaftans, but I've only ever made them for women." Oday often found himself staring at his creations longingly. Not because he was particularly dying to go out in a copper sequin cocktail dress, no shade to any man who does, but he wanted that feeling, that joyful perfect-in-his-skin feeling. He'd looked high and low for an aesthetic and style to align with his particular balance of masucline and feminine energy. He never could find it. The truth is, you can't find good...


"...Kaftans that anyone can wear like us lady bears." said Kyle, finishing Oday's thought. 


Get out of my head, Ky. Oday smiled at him for what was the best awkward, silent pause he'd ever experienced. Kyle smiled back.


"Well you need to make them then - it's done." Kyle spilled over his words in excitement, hurrying to get his idea out and knowing Oday was thinking the same. 

Stay with me now. It's 9 months later. The world is in a pandemic and seemingly falling apart at the seams - fashion pun intended - and Oday is alone in his New York apartment facing a very, very lonely quarantine. His women's ready-to-wear line did not fit with this picture. Kyle moved to Chicago. Things were not working. None of this feels right, he thought.


Then the doorbell rang. 


For some reason his heart skipped a beat, wondering who the hell that could be. He'd been alone in his East Village apartment for twenty-three days and counting. No visitors allowed. The city was on complete lock-down. The thought of anyone being at his doorstep, to be honest, sent him into a bit of a panic. 


He opened the door slowly, but no one was there. He looked down and saw a package and looked closer at the label. He gasped.

"Oh my God, the kaftans!" He completely forgot about them. After that August conversation with Kyle, he had come back to the city, poured out some drawings as if they'd been trapped inside and waiting to get out, had patterns created, and sent everything out for samples to be made. It had been so long, and the world so different, that he had completely forgotten. But once he realized what that box was, he turned off every other thought and ripped it open.

He picked up his favorite one, the one Ky picked the colors for. Thin vertical stripes in an olive green and grenadine red. Only he would pick such an unexpectedly perfect color combination.

"Wow this feels amazing..." Oday said as he let the colorful fabric run through his fingers. He couldn't wait any longer and threw it on. 

Best. Feeling. Ever.

He finally felt it. That pure-joy feeling. This is it! he thought. He wanted something that was a balance of everything he felt. The kaftan cut was his Iraqi roots; the bold, expressive prints, his American upbringing. It was masculine yet feminine. Comfortable, yet sexy.  Twenty-three days of stress and anxiety, and this thing was giving him so many good vibes. He only ever meant to make something he could wear, but he remembered all the friends that hadn't stopped asking him about the kaftans since he mentioned the idea to them. This could be something, he thought.

HE FINALLY FELT IT. THAT PURE-JOY FEELING.

He remembered the conversation he had ages ago with James, his business partner, a.k.a. bestie that never stopped believing in his work. They had laughed excitedly at the idea as they worked out business names. So far Kaftko was the winner.

 

He picked up the phone and called his sister-in-law, a.k.a. his other business partner, a.k.a. his partner in creation. 

 

"Dana - remember how I was telling you about that kaftan idea? Well the samples came in today and you would not believe how amazing they are. What if we sold these? We could create a new brand and just start together from scratch."

 

"Habibi, don't take this the wrong way but the world is in the middle of a pandemic. I don't think people are going to buy kaftans right now. I absolutely love the idea but people are living in sweats - is this really the right time to launch something new?" she questioned. 

"Yeah...I don't know, it sounds crazy," Oday said as the wind in his sails deflated a bit. "I'm just going to order a hundred, even if it's just for friends, maybe run a pre-order, and see what happens. Can you work on some brand assets?"

"Yeah, definitely," Dana responded and hung up. 

Maybe it was crazy, but he could not stop smiling as he looked at himself in these olive and grenadine stripes. They were Ky's stripes. He missed him, but falling in love with this kaftan was everything he needed right now.

Re-Introducing our heritage print:
WELCOME, KY STRIPE.

She's back and she has a new name. Many of you were bummed to miss out on Trippy Stripe during Pre-Order, but we promised we'd bring her back. We gave her the stage she deserves, with her rightful name, Ky Stripe, and the best back story a kaftan ever had.