Perfectly polished posh men dressed in candy colored three piece designer suits walk the streets in the poverty stricken Congo. Known as the Sapeurs, these men dress from head to toe in designer gear to the tune of Dior, Yamamoto, Fendi, YSL, Versace, Gucci, Cardin, and Prada.
The Sapeurs belong to the exclusive group, Le SAPE, which stands for Société des Ambianceurs et des Personnes Élégantes, or the Society of Tastemakers and Elegant People. Members of this group follow a strict code of conduct which includes dress, behavior, and notions of morality.
Le SAPE is not a gang, they have no history of violence. In fact, the Sapeurs’ motto is “Let’s drop the weapons, let us work and dress elegantly.” Instead, the Sapeurs see themselves as artists, and most live in dingy shacks and work two jobs to afford the pricey threads they dress themselves in daily in the Congo.
This style of dress is not new, it’s actually borrowed from the French and Belgian colonists who took over the Congo in the late nineteenth century. The first famous African dandy in the Congo was pop musician Papa Wemba, who really fueled the Le Saper movement in the 1960’s and 70’s. The trend has spread and gotten more and more popular since.
The bright, playful yet professionally dressed African dandies have become highly infulential to the fashion designers in Europe. Their influence can be seen all over the 2010 runways.
Men taking a little pride in their dress always impresses us. And we love confidence in bold color.