How The Durag Went Mainstream

A durag is a scarf that is worn on top of the head. It got its start in the 1800s among slaves and laborers. It was during the 1930s that it started to be used by African Americans as a way to preserve their hairstyle, especially in Harlem. It came to the attention of the wider public in the 1960s when men in the Black Power Movement wore their durag out in public.

During the 1970s, it caught on among mainstream African American men. Durags started to be sold in stores in 1979 as one of the components of hair grooming kits. After brushing their hair into the style they liked men would tie the durag down on their head which would protect it for when they wanted to show it off.

Wearing a durag became especially popular in hip-hop and rap culture in the 1990s. It also became something that was worn by men who styled their hair in waves. African American men brush their hair in one direction and then, once they find their hair’s natural pattern, brush in the ways their hair goes. Afterward, they put the durag on which compresses their hair down and seals everything in place.

After durags became popular among rappers they started to become adopted by other celebrities such as pro athletes. Before long African American men of all types were wearing durags. They started to lose their popularity in the 2000s, though, especially after the NFL banned players from wearing them in 2001.

The durag has made a comeback, though, and is now worn by men and women alike, including in high fashion. Singer Solange Knowles famously wore one when she showed up at an event at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. The theme of this event was Catholicism and so she wore a black durag that had a gold halo attached to it. She let the back of the durag drape down her neck in order to show its hem which had stitched on it, in gold thread, “My God Wears A Durag”.

Men and women of all races in fashion have also been sporting a designer durag. They have been seen on many fashion runways in New York City, Paris, London, and elsewhere. The first time this occurred was at fashion designer’s Rick Owens Spring/Summer 2014 show in Paris. This announced that the durag had been adopted by high fashion and it started to be worn by fashion-conscious people throughout the Western World.

Even motorcyclists wear durags nowadays. They wear one in order to prevent their helmet from causing them to have “helmet hair”. Another benefit for motorcyclists is that the durag prevents sweat from leaking into the helmet which causes an unpleasant smell inside of them. They are also used to prevent sunburns on bald heads when a motorcyclist is able to ride without their helmet on.