The ‘Sapeurs’ is a unique African subculture that dress in extravagantly tailored suits amid their war-torn slums. This unique style resulted from enslaved Africans being given elegant clothing by their European masters to ‘fit in’ with their luxurious surroundings. The code of ‘Sapologie’, or the art of being a gentleman, is upheld by ‘Sapeurs’ through impeccable manners and attention to detail in personal appearance.
Despite the average Congolese income being among the lowest in the world, ‘Sapeurs’ often spend more on imported Italian suits than they do on rent for their homes. Sapeurs are followers of fashion culture in Brazzaville and Kinshasa and are part of La Sape, ‘Société des Ambianceurs et des Personnes Élégantes’ (Society of Ambiance-Makers and Elegant People). Most are ordinary working-class people, but as ‘Sapeurs’, they wear dapper designer suits and take great pride in their appearance. These flamboyant personalities are treated like rock stars in their communities for the joy they bring to others through their extravagant outfits.