Our Clothes Don't Always Reflect How Much Money We Make

Walking through the rural streets of the Congo, you cross path with a man dressed in bright red, well tailored suit, with a shiny cane in his hand guiding his strut. That is what you call someone embracing and continuing the Sapeur or La Sape (La Société des Ambianceurs et Personnes Elégantes) or in English (The Society of Ambient People of Elegance) culture.

After WWII ended, serviceman from the Congo had return home from France. They returned with a new way of fashion and adapted to the dandy style into a new culture among the youth. As always, when the youth adapt to a style and with a combination of numerous economic struggle within the country of Congo, the youth culture eventually created what is now known as Sapeur.

When the Sapeur emerged, it is was prevalent during the early 1980s, specifically in the youth southern group of the Bacongo due to the unsuccessful progress in electing appropriate government positions. This became a ritualistic thing that would transform the youth in society from being a regular citizen to this “classy man”.

Sapeurs of today however, are not dominated by the youth anymore, but the generation that adapted to the popularity and strive to keep the culture going. Some have stop others continue the style because not only did it reflect how the people wanted to feel during the 70s and 80s when the Congo was in economic and political battle. Today, still the country is dealing with the financial struggle and there are still urban areas in which some of these people continue the Sapeur way. Often times, they would save up for years to buy certain suites, article of clothing, or particular shoes. The most symbolic garment of clothing is to have a pair of Westin shoes from France. Above is a short documentary about a man who embraced the Sapeur way and tells the audience what it means to him and why he puts in the money to dress they way he does.