From a Hippy Favorite To a Fashion Staple: How the Afghan Coat Conquered the West

The Afghan coat is one of the most ubiquitous coats in recent history, worn by everyone from John Lennon to Britney Spears. But how did it become so popular and is it still trendy in 2022?


As you might have guessed by the name, the Afghan coat comes from Afghanistan. It was crafted by nomadic artisans using sheepskin and wool sheared from local animals and worn as an outer garment by men during the colder months of the year. But over time it got noticed and worn way beyond the borders of Afghanistan. And it all began in London.


In the 1960s, the Western world was rapidly changing. It was a time of rebellion against traditional values and customs. People craved social and political revolution and used hedonism and self-expression as a means to achieve that.

Clothing was a big part of it and when these unique sheepskin coats appeared in exotic and bohemian stores like Granny Takes a Trip on King’s Road in Chelsea they sparked everyone's curiosity. But it was John Lennon who stole the show by wearing a yellow Afghan coat embroidered with red flowers at the Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band 1967 album launch, starting a fashion trend that would soon take London by storm.

After that, the Afghan coat became a favorite among many psychedelic rock bands and musicians such as Jimi Hendrix and Pink Floyd as well as their contemporaries who used it as a symbol of rebellion as well as a fashion statement.


The 1960s also experienced the birth of the Hippy movement. As a subculture, it adopted many attributes in ideology as well as in clothing. And the Afghan coat soon became an important one. From the streets of London and San Francisco to the fields of the Woodstock Music Festival, an Afghan coat was worn as proof of one's foreign travels, open-mindedness, and free-spirited outlook on the world.

Throughout the '60s and '70s Kabul, Afghanistan had become a destination for many western hippy travelers. Chicken Street, previously dominated by the local poultry vendors, had become a tourist hotspot with many antique shops and clothing stores filled with this coveted garment. Many foreigners took advantage of the popularity of the Afghan coat in the west and traveled to Kabul to get as many pieces as possible to resell back home.


After a while, the hype over Afghan coats had certainly died down. But with the new Millenium approaching, it found its way back on everyone's radar. Except for this time it had taken on a new form. Faux suede, denim, and corduroy were the materials of choice. Combined with the styles of the late '90s and early '00s it certainly created a unique look. Pop stars and starlets such as Britney Spears and Paris Hilton were style inspirations for many, and their wearing the Afghan coat made it a must-have for every fashionista at the time.

Not only did the coat get a new look, soon it got a new name as well. After the release of the movie “Almost Famous” in 2000, it was dubbed the Penny Lane coat. Named after the main heroine Penny Lane, played by the actress Kate Hudson. A long overcoat with a lush shearling collar and cuffs was chosen by the film's costume designer as a representation of the free-spirited youth of the '60s and '70s. 


Whatever the reason behind their popularity, Afghan coats have been with us for as long as we can remember. They were worn by all sorts of different people - from hippies to starlets - and they continue to be popular today. Be it a ’90s version or the real deal from the ’70s. From the stages of popular musicians to the runways of brands like Celine and Etro. It's easy to see why: they are warm, and comfortable and come in a range of colors. Afghan coat has a rich cultural heritage that fascinates many to this day. The coat that has never quite gone out of fashion.  

Find it brand new or choose a pre-loved one. Northern Grip offers a wide variety of sheepskin coats from - Afghan coat-inspired Penny Lane coats for women and classic sheepskin coats for men.