According to many, the history of the classic look in Africa dates back in large part to the eras of slavery and colonialism. While most countries tell tales of sordid and dark pasts, the beauty of the classic, vintage look continues to inspire, even as it goes through various iterations, with each becoming more creative and colorful over time. It is no secret that Africans love to look sharp whenever possible, and bringing a little bit of ‘old school’ style into the mix doesn’t hurt either.
On the continent, classic fashion is more than just adorning oneself with an outfit from your grandparent’s closet, and while it is catching on a cult like fever, it is more than just a trend. In many arenas it is a way of life; just ask the stylish Congolese Sapeurs who dare to be suave and hip cats who emulate an aristocratic air, even in their not so elegant surroundings.
No one immediately associates pocket squares, custom double breasted suits and fedoras with the slums of Congo, but this subculture (otherwise known as the Society of Ambianceurs and Elegant People) successfully marries classic vintage with modern, creative influences. But this is not all for show. The life of Sapeurism is an art in and of itself, one that is meant to exude a sense of decorum and confidence in oneself despite the circumstances.
Of course, we can’t forget the beautiful Herero women of Namibia whose traditional outfit is indeed reflective of the Victorian era. While it might certainly be too heavy for day to day wear, it is certainly commemorative of the unique way that a group of people married the majestic elegance of European fashion in the 1890’s with their own pastoral traditions — layers upon layers of fabric, with the iconic head dress that closely resembles the horns of a cow. Creativity is key as modern designs are truly vibrant and festive, and while indicative of dark period in the country’s history, it reflects the pride and confidence in who they truly are.
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