Watch any music video from the 90s to the early 2000s, and you'll find a staple of urban fashion - the durag. While it may be associated with pick-up basketball games and hard-hitting rap beats, it's a type of clothing known for its utility in warm weather conditions and its down-to-earth simplicity.
What Is a Durag?
While there are, for lack of a better term, purpose-built durags that come already tied and are produced entirely for their fashionable effect, the durag was initially released under the name of a "tie down," as it functioned to protect the hair of the wearer from puffing back up after being combed down. In essence, the durag is a haircare accessory. It's a piece of fabric made to conform around the entirety of the top of the head, and is then tied behind the skull, leaving extra fabric to hang down the neck area. For those with naturally curly and somewhat unmanageable hair, they first brush all of their hair in the same pattern that it normally grows, and then use the durag to compress the hair down. This leads the hair to have perfectly flowing and silky "waves" that look really well thought-out and put together.
The Rise of the Durag
The original durag first became popularized in the 80s, and it had enduring popularity until the mid-2000s. This increase in popularity was primarily found in African American communities, because they're more likely to have the kind of hair consistency required for the wavy style of hair the durag is supposed to help provide. The durag enables the wearer to go about their day without having to worry about outside circumstances, like weather, to ruin the work they're doing, only taking it off when they're going to display their flowing locks. This leads to many people being seen sporting durags around town, while they completed basic tasks and errands. This is why it became a fashion statement in and of itself.
Because of this, associations with the durag were being made, and people began wearing them merely because they liked the look. It became fashionable. Since they weren't wearing it to protect their hair, the need to have it tied properly fell to the wayside, and there's now a few different configurations of durag based on how you choose to secure or not secure it. After a time, people like Rihanna could be seen sporting silk durags, and rappers wore them for nearly any occasion. It had eked out its way from the fashion world and wasn't going anywhere. At this point, durags were being manufactured and sold at high quantities, with sites like https://www.wholesaleforeveryone.com offering hundreds of durags for a meager price. These durags began becoming a staple of corner stores, head shops, or any other small bodega-type establishments. Simply put, they had appeal.
Over time though, the low-income associations with durags made them fall to the wayside. Fashion became hypermodern, and a preference for designer clothing and other displays of wealth made the durag seem like a poor choice for the fashion-conscious individual who wanted to display their upward mobility.
The Return of the Durag
As typical with fashion though, things go in cycles. Now, people don't have the same associations with designer clothing and remarkably engineered clothing. Designer clothing is somewhat accessible now, and people see it as tacky and as needless flaunting. Pieces that can show off your humanity, uniqueness, and personal sense of style are becoming much more appealing. Handmade pieces, accessories that come from different places or cultures, and especially durags, are now becoming highly desirable. They're a return to form for many, and the return is much anticipated.
In today's fashion world, we better begin making room for the durag.
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