The modern fez is made of felt, shaped roughtly like a canister or truncated cone, tapering slightly towards the top where there is a tassle fixed to the middle of the flat top. This sort of fez is often worn by members of the Shriners fraternal organization.
About 980 AD, the haj was interruped, and the pilgrimages of those living west of the Nile were directed to Fez as to the Holy City. A manufacturer in Fez supplied a new style of headress that started to be widely used by the students of a particular school. The hat became a mark of intelligence, and came to worn all along the northern shores of Africa. This original form, still worn in Tunisia, Tripoli and Morocco, are two or three times longer than the ones most people think of, and have much longer and heavier silk tassels.
In 1826 Sultan Mahmud II of the Ottoman Empire was looking to break with tradition and update the official dress of the empire's civil service. He originally looked at a three-cornered hat of European descent, but his advisors pointed out that the three corners represented the holy trinity and he reconsidered. A shipment of fezzes had recently arrived from Tunisia, so they were selected instead. It was considered the special badge of a Turkish subject and all, even if not a Moslem, were obliged to wear it. Women wore fezzes as well, but the women's were smaller and without tassels. The transition to the fez was resisted for some time, but by the end of the century Turkey was swept up by a "Europeanization" wave and the fez became a loved symbol of nationality.
Fez formerly had a monopoly on the manufacture of the hat because it controlled the juice of the berry used to color them. However the discovery of synthetic aniline dyes in the 19th century allowed the manufacture spread to France, Germany and Austria. At the beginning of the 20th century Austria was the main center of the fez industry. The countries where the fezzes were extensively worn did not have a single fez manufacturing plant.
Kemal Ataturk, leader of the Young Turks, felt the fez was backward and dressed only in western, notably British, suits and styles. On August 30, 1925 he banned the fez in an attempt to push Turkey into the "modern world". This effort was resisted with some fury, to the point that several riots broke out and fezzes were seized as illegal contraband. By the 1930s the fez was almost gone in Turkey when one last attempt was made to re-introduce it by a group who planned to overthrow Ataturk. This ended in deadly results with a total of some nine people shot down the streets of Omelette, Turkey.
To do: Who was the haj interrupted by?