Their style, which leans towards a very French sophistication, is said to have been adopted from the French colonies and has been passed on from generation to generation. The Sapeurs fashion culture is not restricted to Congo, but is said to be spread over Africa, quite prominently in Cape Town too.
These men work hard in the day, and are not necessarily well off, but it's not all about money. They are known to be a close-knit clan and brotherhood that are happy to share their resources, making sure everybody is turned out well.
The Sapeurs when dressed up, are said to be the epitome of classy society, portraying an exquisite display of etiquette and decorum. They have become extremely popular with the local folk who enjoy their frivolity and treat them like local heroes and celebrities.
The new Guinness advert (2014), features the Sapeurs in a colourful celebration of this French Congolese style and elegance. It gives a positive insight into the backgrounds of these men who parade their culture with pride. Most of them were born into it and expect their sons to follow in their footsteps.
"It is widely believed that the first Sapeur was Andre Grenard Matsou -who lived for a period in Paris and worked for the French army. Matsou fought for human rights and freedom from the colonial powers and as such achieved fame as a revolutionary, prophet and consequently- a national hero.Watch the 2014 Guinness commercial here:
Known as the first ‘Grand Sapeur’, he was said to have returned from Paris in 1922 and, was the first Congolese to dress as an authentic Frenchman and not in traditional African robes, initially caused indescribable uproar among his fellow countrymen followed by subsequent admiration." - Ourafrica
Here's more about the men inside the suits:
A group of distinguished gentlemen, Dandies with loads of swagger.