A US$3,500 kaftan? Gucci is the latest fashion brand to sell ‘overpriced’ basic items found in Asia | Life


Gucci’s latest season floral embroidery kaftan gets compared to the traditional Indian kurta. — Picture from Gucci
Gucci’s latest season floral embroidery kaftan gets compared to the traditional Indian kurta. — Picture from Gucci

KUALA LUMPUR, June 1 – Italian luxury fashion house Gucci made headlines over the weekend for a very familiar clothing item that many in Asia will recognise – the kaftan.

Far from your mum or grandmother’s billowy house dress, the Florence-based maison’s “floral embroidery organic linen kaftan” is priced at a whopping US$3,500 (RM14,440).

Gucci’s latest sartorial offering raised eyebrows in India, where many internet users couldn’t help but compare it to the kurta, a traditional long top commonly paired with pants that would cost nowhere near the designer’s wallet-busting price.









Some have even accused the luxury brand of cultural appropriation, which refers to adopting one or more elements of a particular culture by members of another culture.



According to several media outlets including Vice and Times of India, Gucci wrote in the product description: “Crafted from organic linen, this kaftan is enriched with a floral embroidery and self-tile tassels (sic).”

“First introduced as part of Gucci’s 1996 collection, the kaftan continues to be an integral part of the House aesthetic while evolving in new materials and modern details.”

However, a quick check by Malay Mail found that the description has been edited and now only features the first sentence.

Gucci is the latest member to join the ranks of other major fashion houses that have drawn inspiration from daily household items found in Asian homes with inflated price tags.

In November 2020, Tiffany & Co. rolled out a mahjong set for an eye-watering RM62,000 that will bankrupt you even before the game starts, following in the footsteps of Hermes and its RM175,000 mahjong set.

Similar to Gucci, Spanish fast-fashion retailer Zara was mocked in 2018 for selling what appeared to be an overpriced lungi, a type of sarong commonly worn by men in the Indian subcontinent.



Ubiquitous market items found across Asia were also not spared from fashion gentrification by brands such as Balenciaga.

In 2016, the Spanish design house’s fashion show featured bags inspired by colourful wholesale carriers commonly seen in Thailand that will set you back thousands of dollars.



Closer to home, who remembers Hermes’ 2016 nasi lemak bag?



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