Durags are a popular item in streetwear culture and have been for many years. The durag is thought to originate from the Arabic word “dourgha” which means “head cover.” This makes sense because, historically, the durag was worn by African men as a way to cover their hair while praying. Today, the durag is still popular among Muslim men but has also become popular among African American and Caribbean men. There are many different ways to wear a durag, but the most common way is to tie it around your head so that it covers your hair.
Black people have used head scarves for a very long time. Actually, Ethiopian soldiers in the 19th century are maybe responsible for the durag’s origin. The durag was first worn by Ethiopian troops in the nineteenth century, according to the BBC. In addition, black women often wore scarves over their hair while putting in long hours of work.
The durag, then known as “do rag,” made one of the earliest appearances in print in the June 1966 issue of the Akron Beacon Journal. “A cloth band worn over the forehead as a sweatband to hold hair in place,” is how it was described there. They had developed from the head wraps that slave women used in the 19th century to keep their hair up and out of the way while giving birth. According to reports, businesses sold what they called the “tie-down” versions of the durag in the late 1970s.
For black males, it became a crucial tool for shaping their curl patterns or securing their hairdos as they slept. Up until the 1990s, the durag was only used for practical purposes. Then, it started to represent urban black culture. It had grown popular in the streets years before the fashion world took notice. The durag evolved from a hair care product to a legitimate fashion accessory, most notably thanks to hip-hop, which was reflected on the heads of men and boys across the nation.
From a practical garment to a stylish accessory
Up until the 1970s, the durag was only used for practical purposes. Many athletes wear durags to protect their hair during sporting events or appearances. The rapper Nas is known for wearing a red durag, and NBA players often wear black durags to keep their hair in place during games. Some women also use durags as a way to keep their hair from becoming dry and brittle in the wintertime.
During the 1990s, It started to a fashion must-have when many hip-hop celebrities and musicians used the headgear for their videos, including Jay-Z and Nelly, the durag began to gain popularity as a fashion accessory.
Then, it began to symbolize black culture in inner cities. Years had passed before the fashion industry began to notice how popular it was on the streets. Hip-hop, which was reflected on the heads of men and boys across the country, was a major factor in the durag’s evolution from a hair care item to a respectable fashion accessory.
The protective headscarf is now also being glorified by some luxury manufacturers, who are also slapping a hefty price tag on the normally affordable item. For his spring and summer 2014 collection, designers produced an all-black velvet durag that cost $500. In 2020, 20-year-old designer California founded the first store selling expensive silk and satin durags in Melrose. The movement to recover the durag and redefine it on their terms is being led by people of color but it is sold everywhere in the world and is not only based on skin tone.