Throughout the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, traditional articles of Central Asian clothing remained basically unchanged. The classic T-shaped outer robe (generically called a chapan, khalat or don) was worn by nomadic and settled peoples, men, women, and children. Most robes were lightly padded with cotton batting and lined with either locally handwoven cotton cloth, or factory-produced cotton, much of which was imported from Russian mills in brightly colored patterns. The edges were usually finished with a decorative trimming that also served to prevent evil spirits from gaining access.

The most widely used fabrics for outer robes were multi-colored handwoven stripes called bekasab or alacha. From the latter part of the nineteenth century onward, inexpensive Russian printed-cotton was also very popular. Velvets and ikats were costly and only well-off people could afford to wear them. After the Soviets gained control of Central Asia, small textile workshops were collectivized into artels and the more labor-intensive fabrics ceased to be made. Large vertical textile factories were built in Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan that produced many kinds of cloth, including silk ikats. These machine-woven ikats were inexpensive and plentiful and quickly caught on with women and girls for their dresses and robes.