Sapeurs De Congo – How To Incorporate Their Style
You might have noticed the impeccably dressed men featured in the latest Guinness ad providing inspiration and style in abundance, but there’s much more to the story. There’s something interesting going on in Congo Brazzaville and in the neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo. A unique bunch of exquisite men, the Congolese Sapeurs, use elegance and style as a means of resistance to the environment in which they live in. True to the spirit of dandyism they approach style with an artistic edge, concentrating on lines, colors, textures and forms. La Societe des Ambianceurs et des Personnes Elegantes as they are also called, emerged as a form of civil disobedience against the repressive regime of Mobutu Sese Seko. This Congolese sartorial subculture promotes an authenticity which differentiates them from the tribal culture and form an official state of ideology close to Zaire. Their special sense of style derives from a need to conform and adapt to modern western civilization without turning their back on their rich, tribal culture and inheritance. Western styles of attire for example the suit, shirt and tie symbolize their break from the country’s tortured past. Though bright neon colours exuding confidence, expressing tribal references and hope is evident in their exquisite wardrobe.
The Sapeurs or Parisiens were also established as a distinct subculture in the late 80’s. Apart from sporting an interesting attire, the Sape was an intellectual group of people and many of them made a break for it to the Western world and they would return to Congo from Paris summer sales filled with designer pieces.
But many Sapeurs still living in Congo such as taxi drivers and firemen, rely on limited means of income, and spend around 20 per cent of their monthly pay on clothes, yet another proof that style is non dictated by money. Though their unique wardrobe is free in spirit, it follows a few simple rules: Sapeurs never wear more than three different colors at a time unless it includes white. Black and grey tones exist in their wardrobe but they tend to opt for bright neon colors in wonderful authentic mixtures. There are plenty monochromatic outfits in the areas of Kinhasa, which is the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo. They fend for a richness in spirit and imagination not in finance whilst keeping a proud face under difficult circumstances which can only be inspiring to all.
Get The Look
Should you want to incorporate their unique fashion sense, try well crafted suits in bright colours, either monochromatic or blending printed, striped or pocca dot shirts,and ties, leather brogues and pay attention to texture trying even a navy ruffled shirt. The Sape has a tendency to rely heavily on accessories, such as a pocket square, a sleek hat which matches the tones of the overall outfit, cool round frame John Lennon style sunglasses or even a dandy –like cane. True to tribal form, and if you feel more bold you could try a traditional African tunique overall or small African references on a luxury cravat, or on a African inspired tee paired with chinos. Yet the most important Sapeur is the generous infectious smile.