The fashion tribes of Africa

daniele-tamagniStreet style may best be associated with the likes of Tommy Ton’s photographs during fashion weeks in New York, London, Milan and Paris, but they’re not the only ones worth musing over. In fact, while the fashion editors and bloggers of the world do put forward some interesting styles (albeit with borrowed clothing), there’s an evening more thrilling style movement taking place where you would least suspect it.

Away from the fashion houses in France and even further from the fresh designs of Scandinavia and sportswear of America, Africa is quickly gaining the world’s attention for it’s sharp menswear street style. Affectionately referred to as fashion ‘tribes,’ the dapper menswear movement is taking place throughout the continent, best documented though in the Congo and South Africa. So dynamic is the movement that iconic brand Guiness has tapped the Sapeurs fashion tribe in the Congo to be the stars of their latest advertising campaign – along with a short documentary that delves into how this unexpected movement has come about.

The Sapeurs of congo, as seen by Guinness.

The most interesting thing about the Sapeurs is that they are less interested in flaunting wealth, but more in their presentation and gentleman demeanour, going by the motto ‘it’s the man inside the suit that counts.’ A refreshing approach considering much of today’s western street-style is about the label and in turn, prestige and wealth.

In South Africa, as documented by Deniele Tamagni, the city’s male ‘Born Frees’ are also experimenting with a dapper style of three piece suits in a myriad of colours, hats and a broad range of accessories, most of which are often DIY or sourced from vintage stores.

Travel etiquette series

Picture by the blog “Street Etiquette“, on the “travel etiquette series”.

Much like the Sapeurs of the Congo, these style aficionados identify themselves in tribes and, similar to the drag houses of the 1970s in New York, compete with one another in terms of individual and creative style, rather than designer labels and wealth.

While these fashion tribes are an example of the sartorial extreme, the art of dressing up everyday and experimenting with tailoring, colour matching and accessories has begun to influence the country’s wider male population, as documented by a number of local fashion blogs such as Cinder & Skylar. With the rest of the world set to follow no doubt.

Published on Monsieur London 

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