The Republic of Congo has a social movement whose followers stick out like finely-attired sore thumbs; men dressed head-to-toe in designer outfits that often cost more than the homes they hang their very expensive brand-name hats in. The Société des Ambianceurs et des Personnes Élégantes, (often referred to by the acronym SAPE) is one that places a huge emphasis on clothing that not only looks fantastic, but has to have the price tag to match. It’s an odd combination for a region known for its extreme poverty, and the stylish Sapeurs, as they’re best known, have no qualms boasting about the fact. Along with the look comes an attitude, in this case of the Sapeurs it’s about being a gentlemanly example of civility in a region that has been decimated by territorial wars. Detractors say life as a Sapeur is one of unnecessary extravagance, while supporters point to the sense of pride and inclusiveness La Sape members feel. Regardless, the Sapeurs do look like a million bucks, even if appearances are as far as the wealth goes.
A well-made suit and colorful tie can go a long way, or so the Sapeurs of the Congo like to say. Meet the fashionable dandies who practice what they preach.