Kaftans made of Kerala cottons

Meenakshi Sajeev from Thiruvananthapuram is designing kaftans for Onam, which are sold through her friends’ Instagram pop-up store

Kaftan is a garment for all seasons. It became the garment of the lockdown with celebrities flaunting it and as beachwear. Bollywood diva Kareena Kapoor Khan made it her favourite attire during her second pregnancy and had a #kaftanseries on her social media handle. Besides a silk kaftan, she glowed in the cotton ones with bold prints and floral motifs and an embroidered kaftan kurta. Among those were kaftans designed by Masaba Gupta and Anita Dongre.

The comfy, easy-breezy outfit is now being sold by boutiques and designers in Kerala too. Thiruvananthapuram-based writer and communication strategist Meenakshi Sajeev has given it a festive touch for Onam by designing kaftans using the traditional Kerala handloom with the kasavu (zari) and kara. They are available on the Instagram pop-up store, Purple Bean Store (@purple.bean.store) run by her friends, Ambica Nair and Nidhi Harikrishnan.

(From left) Ambica Nair, Meenakshi Sajeev and Nidhi Harikrishnan | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

“I love doodling and have been designing my dresses. Since Onam is a muted affair this year as well, I felt that instead of draping the traditional Kerala sari like I do every year, I should try something new — an outfit that is comfortable but not commonly worn. That’s when I thought about the kaftan. I wanted to bring an Onam element onto it so that I can wear it outside,” says Meenakshi.

She bought the fabric from Balaramapuram and her “good-old tailor” stitched a piece. Even though she planned to start an Instagram page to sell it, Ambica and Nidhi suggested that she add a sample on their page. “It was immediately sold. We launched the product nearly a month ago and have been getting regular orders since then; there was an order from the US as well. We now have three tailors, all of whom were left in the lurch due to the pandemic,” she says.

The kaftans come with kasavu-kara borders, plain kasavu and plain kara. “The kasavu-kara variety has had more takers. People are asking for bright colours on the border. I haven’t experimented much with the designs though, since I haven’t had enough time,” says Meenakshi.

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