Thursday, 23 February 2017

The Dapper Men Of The Congo

Les Sapeurs is their name and fashion is their game where colour has no shame. These are a group of Congolese men who love to dress like a million bucks — even though they live in povertyTheir tradition has been around for a long time and you may very well know of them.  Right now I'm a little obsessed with them which prompted me to post this little article. Please be sure to watch the 5 minute Guinness documentary at the bottom of this post. 
These uber stylish men became quite well known around the world after the Guinness documentary was released in 2014. The term sapeurs comes from the original French name for the club the men belong to: Société des Ambianceurs et des Personnes Élégantes (SAPE), which translates loosely as the Society of Elegant Persons of the Congo.
The tradition began in the 1920s, when the Republic of Congo was still a French colony. Many Congolese people were fascinated with French sophistication and decided to emulate the styles. They adapted it and slowly made it into something of their own where colour and accessories are two rules that must be adopted. And as you can see, they certainly have made style something of their own. 
In present day Brazzaville, les sapeurs spend big money on looking smart and dapper. They spend thousands of dollars on designer outfits and shoes. YSL, Gucci, Dolce & Gabbana, Kenzo are only some of the designers they cherish. Crocodile skin shoes, gold cuff links, hand crafted belt buckles are only a few of accessories they spend their savings on. These men are normal civilians: from carpenters, taxi drivers, policemen to street vendors and miners who live in one of the poorest countries on earth, with more than half of the population living below the poverty line and the average yearly income is $4500.   
However it's their passion, a way of expressing their character and individuality, and most make sacrifices to purchase these special pieces. They believe they won't have a future elsewhere and are therefore making the most of their life amongst the poverty stricken streets. They want to shine in such harsh environments and when they gather together on the streets, in bars or in their own little private gatherings they have a wonderful time. I don't blame them.
They are an extraordinary, peaceful group of men who just want to live life and have fun.  We in the western world could certainly learn a thing or two from them. 

Please watch this gorgeous 5 minute documentary. 

See you soon

Gessica X