Amidst a poor socioeconomic background, Congolese men celebrate life and their unique cultural style through La Sape fashion.
It all started with Papa Wemba and his entourage, a legendary Congolese singer and lead actor in the classic Congolese movie “La Vie Est Belle”. In 1979, after returning from the Afrisa trip to Europe, Wemba began promoting the Sapeur (‘Société Ambianceurs et Persons Élégants’) as a youth cult specifically centered around Viva La Musica band and its music. They started wearing expensive European clothes in a Congolese style. Baggy dress pants pulled up above the waistline to the chest which facilitated a visual for the dance moves.
Today La Sape continues in bright clashing colors which reminds you of the nature of many African fabrics.
In reality men cannot afford a “La Sape” lifestyle but they save money for periods of time to purchase these clothes while living in a small space.
Although many cannot afford the lifestyle, it is a way of celebrating life and one’s own unique cultural style.
About Ntumba Mukendi
Congolese born Ntumba Mukendi is a fashion designer who previously worked at Tommy Hilfiger, then launched her own brand ntumba.ntumba design (www.ntumbantumbadesign.com). Her company utilizes authentic African fabric to help boost the African economy. Ntumba is also the founder of the fashion-based organization ntumba.ntumba apparel (www.ntumbantumba.org) which promotes gender-empowerment.