Were you a flower child of the 60s -70s? If so, you are probably familiar with the Afghan coat. Read our guide for more facts and information…
The Afghan coat was made from the skin and the wool of a sheep. It was worn with the skin or leather side out with the wool to the inside. They were mostly used by people living in the cold northern and mountainous areas of Afghanistan and neighboring countries. The coat also may have been decorated with embroidery.
The Afghan coat became popular in the late 1960’s and early 70’s when John Lennon, a member of the Beatles started wearing one. Soon, every hippie and want to be had to have one- and this was a worldwide fashion statement. Pair it together with bell bottom pants and a flowered shirt and you were right in style.
Hazards of Wearing the Afghan Coat
These coats were made in Afghanistan, possibly by native tribesmen or at least a very rudimentary tailor. The makers had no idea how to cure the skins of the animals. As a result, the coats had a very significant odor. To be blunt, they actually stank.
One wearer stated that her friends could smell her coming before they saw her. Another said that her mother complained that it smelled like something had died in the hallway of her home. One person exclaimed that the coat smelled not like the sheep was already dead, but was wounded and slowly rotting.
Nevertheless, the trend wore on to the dismay of non-wearers. Those who wore these coats are now often nostalgic and wish they still had them. You might think that being made of sheepskin and wool, there would still be a few around. Much to the delight of the non-wearers, the coats were poorly made and would sometimes disintegrate right before their eyes.
Wearers of the Afghan coat have been encouraged by rumors that there may be a style return. The Afghan president, Hamid Karzai wore an Afghan coat with ornate embroidery on a recent trip to London. This sent London fashion designers into a tizzy wanting to copy his coat. The bad news is that no one yet has had the nerve to produce these coats in any volume. The good news is
that in the interim between the 1970’s and now, Afghan tailors have made giant strides in how to cure the animal skins, so the old odor should not be a problem if the coat ever goes into mass production again.
Of course, these coats are still worn by the people of the northern regions of Afghanistan because of their warmth. They are mostly homemade and the people there care little about the curing of the skin or the smell. Hopefully the old hippies will wait for the mass produced item.