From Protective Wrap To High Fashion (And Its Own Festival), The Durag Reigns Supreme

durag
Photo Credit: Tamography

If there is one thing that we’ve learned about fashion, it’s that trends come and go. One trend in particular that has made quite the comeback is the durag. Yes, you read that correctly! The head tie that you grew up seeing men in your neighborhood wear over their heads is taking over fashion.

Many of us only know of the durag as just a nighttime headscarf, but there is so much more to its history than meets the eye. The infamous durag dates back to the 19th century. While we now enjoy our satin weave caps, scarfs, and hairnets, at that time, all slaves had to wear durags to tie their hair back as they worked.

Durag
Photo Credit: Tamography

But then we changed the narrative, with durags making a comeback in the ‘30s, during one of this country’s most significant periods—the Great Depression and the Harlem Renaissance.


The hair essential became to men what satin bonnets are to women — all about maintaining your style underneath.

According to Kulture Hub, the “tie back hair du preserve,” which is what the durag was also known as at the time, was a staple during that era. As the style grew in popularity, The New York Times reported that William J. Dowdy, known for popularizing the durag with the hair brand So Many Waves, called the durags “tie-downs.”

Rihanna x durag
Rihanna at 2014 CFDA Awards // Photo Credit: Getty

Then the durag went from being a hair protector to a hairstyle setter for men. Men with fades and low cuts would carry a flat top brush, brush their hair repeatedly towards the front, apply hair pomade and tie their hair down. Once they take off the durag, the goal is to achieve a wavy hair pattern.

But, durags were still considered to be a household garment that could only be worn indoors. Until the ’90s and 2000’s arrived — and things drastically changed. The durag was seen anywhere and everywhere.

From award shows and concerts to special appearances and even the NBA, stars like 50 Cent, Nelly and Ja Rule and Allen Iverson were among the many donning the head attire.

Typically worn under fitted caps, you’d be hard-pressed to find a man during this time leaving his house without his precious durag, especially when different color options became available.

Keke Palmer x Hype Hair October 2019
Photo Credit: Lawrence Murray // Artwork: Hannah Aryee

Over the last few years, women have been getting in on the fun, too. The headscarf helps women keep their braided styles and other looks frizz-free. But the durag soon became a fashion trend for the ladies, as well. From Rihanna’s Swarovski crystal-studded durag at the 2014 Council of Fashion Designers of America Awards to our Hype Hair October cover star Keke Palmer serving major face, we must admit that women make durags look good.

The durag has definitely shifted the fashion landscape, and we’re completely here for it.

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About The Author

Tatayana Yomary

Tatayana is a fashionista obsessed with all things beauty, pop culture and style. Her work has appeared in Hollywood Life, Global Grind, IBT Media, Us Weekly and Sadiaa Beauty. Follow her on Instagram @machineguntatyy__ and Twitter @BabyfaceTatz. Be sure to check out her skincare blog @TheSkincareArsenal on IG!