Updated: Oct 15, 2019

The Sapeurs or Sapes hoped to fully embody the suave elegant style that a wardrobe of three-piece suits, silk socks, fedoras, and canes might suggest. The Congolese streets provided a literal fashion runway for these gentlemen. Sapeurs are members of the “Societe des Ambianceurs et des Personnes Elegantes,” which means the Society of Tastemakers and Elegant People in French. However, after Congo’s independence, many Sapeurs flocked to Paris where they became present in café society and reside as local celebs.

Pan-Africanism “You got to fight if you want to be free” During the early 20th-century, the modern Pan-Africanism movement began as a global intellectual campaign that aimed to encourage and strengthen bonds of solidarity between people of color. The advocacy of political unions amongst all indigenous inhabitants of Africa inspired 20th-century Pan-African advocates like, Kame Nkrumah; who urged the rejection of western apparel in favor of nation dress. Yet, members of the young African elite mixed and matched traditional items with clothing made by tailors, each who had his own local flare. Amidst the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960’s developed an optimistic African youth culture that sought to engage in dialogue on international fashion, music trends and socio- political issues associated with that time. The Civil Rights Era, with its focus on integration and black respectability, paved the way for political expression via the vehicle of fashion.


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