Morocco’s sherifian, brimless felt hat, the fez or tarboosh, is back in style thanks to two hat lovers who decided to turn this venerable male head garment into a contemporary unisex fashion statement
The ancient Greeks invented it, but the cylindrical, flat-topped, tasselled hat (usually red) has been part of traditional male dress across North Africa and the Eastern Mediterranean for generations. And now, thanks to fashion-savvy hat aficionados, Sara Hatimi and Ali Sbaibi, it’s getting another lease of life as a must-have 21st-century headdress for both men and women.
The idea came to the former pharmacist and economics graduate when a cyclist in a tarboosh stopped by them at traffic lights. “The image of this man, sitting tall on his bike, embodying tradition and modernity with a tarboosh on his head, didn’t just catch our attention, it filled us with a sense of national pride,” they told the online news site Le360. “Something clicked. It marked the start of a new enterprise, and inspired our slogan ‘head held high’”.
To revisit the fez (and encourage women to adopt something traditionally associated with men), the team recruited a talented crew of experienced artisans, then let their imaginations flow, drawing inspiration from both real and make-believe places around the world. They also replaced the traditional red felt with unexpected fabrics—crocodile and snake-look leather, or bright pink and electric blue sequins—and gave the designs fun names like Croc Power, Purple Abyss, Pinky Power and California Dreaming.
Even a barbary lion wears a tarboosh
Tarbooshes haven’t just been making waves in the fashion industry. They’re cropping up all over the art world: Last year, Casablanca’s Villa des Arts showcased contemporary artist Ryad Mouline’s famous ‘little men in red Fez hats’, and emerging Tunisian designer, Mohamed Kilani Tbib (aka Inkman), drew a barbary lion in a tarboosh for the Moroccan 2026 World Cup candidacy. Fashion, art and football! It’s a hat-trick the fez can be proud of.