It is a fad that took the young by storm in the 1990s and early in the millennium. The ‘art’ of sagging spread like wildfire, marking the start of a fuss that now makes older folk nostalgic.
“You didn’t stand out if you didn’t know how to sag,” recalls Kevin Mafumbo, a film director and freelance model. “The ‘cool’ boys did it. The more you sagged the more you radiated greatness. Your peers looked at you as a fashion icon.” But picture a lady introducing her sagging fiancé to her parents. Does something seem off?
“Definitely,” says Harriet Quimby, a young woman well into her dating years. “There are certain practices that are excusable for individuals of a certain age. Sagging may not be as bad as it seems but it should only be acceptable among teenagers still in high school. A grown man who is thinking about marriage should be beyond sagging his trousers.”
Ladies from Harriet’s school of thought say the practice of sagging is childish. For that reason, they would not want to take a sagging man to their parents to seek consent for marriage. She declares the practice out of date especially when the man has settled down into a serious and committed union like marriage. She says: “I don’t like boys who sag trousers. It can, however, be excused if seen on adolescent teenagers. On the other hand, no woman wants to be walking along the streets with a husband whose underwear is visible to everyone else with the waistline of his trouser tied on his knees. There is a lot that is wrong with that picture.”
Why young men sag is a no brainer. Kenyan psychologist, Catherine Mbau who works at Arise Counselling Centre says that teenagers love such fads. “It is part of an innate and primordial instinct that young people find union and connectedness in odd fashion practices. Sagging originated in America among black youths. It morphed into a statement to announce one’s presence and unity with his peers,” she points out.
Does a man sagging reflect his qualities as a husband?
“I don’t think so,” says James Githinji, who is in a serious relationship which he hopes will lead into marriage. “I sag because it is how I feel. It does not affect my productivity, my friendliness, my feelings towards another person or how I address them. I love my girlfriend when I am sagging and when I am not. If she wouldn’t love me back because I have my trouser buckled lower than my real waist then she is the one with a problem, not me.” Not many women see it like Githinji does. In fact, some loath sagging to the point they wouldn’t stay around a sagging man for long. Take Leah Wanjiku for instance. She believes there is some amount of immaturity that she cannot withstand in a prospective husband.
She explains: “Just like children outgrow cartoons, or childhood games like playing father and mother, then a man ought to leave sagging the moment he steps out of high school. If he expects to meet a serious woman and settle down with her then he better style up and be serious about life.” Her sentiments are echoed by another working woman, Kristin Magu who says one of the qualities that she would look for in a man is his ability to take charge and lead in difficult situations. The downside of marrying a man who sags, she quips, is that he may concentrate on the mundane things that do not matter in life.
“If he sags then it tells you that he is still in the cusp of teenage. He is not prepared for the rigours of marital life: children, provision, settling down, saving for the future, and investing in property. That is a man who will leave you to take the baby to the hospital while he goes partying with his ‘boys’,” declares Magu. For one Kenyan secular artiste who is known nationwide for his trademark denim jeans, sagging is part of fashion and style. He does not read anything sinister and maintains that it is not bad for a man to express himself through his dress code.
It’s never that serious
“Sagging does not mean that you are not a serious person; neither should it be used to vilify men who feel like expressing themselves through what they wear. I wear serious suits and do business in clothes that speak business. But if I am on stage performing, I can sag because my audience loves it. Plus, it is never that serious; it is just a style and not the end of life,” he states.
Different occasions call for different ways of dressing, says the musician. If an occasion calls for seriousness, then a man has to conform. This to him, does not mean that when he is free he cannot take a stroll down the street in cool shades and classic jeans that are buckled below his waist.
But in the opinion of Lilian Imali, a newly betrothed woman, how a man dresses shows whether he is ready to take on the mantle of leadership at home.
“I wouldn’t marry a man who sags his trousers,” she says. “He does not seem like a serious person I would take home to introduce to my parents. My mother would not approve of him and my father is likely to ask if I am joking. The man may look and talk like a grown up but if he is sagging it would mean he is not over his teenage. He ought to have grown up because marriage is for adults.”
Even as the debate plays out, Derek Dbanga, a public image consultant, agrees with the girls that sagging sends the wrong signal to a woman being wooed for marriage.
“The truth is human beings are visual. You will be judged by how you look anywhere you go - when applying for a job, during an interview, when you are going for a themed event. You can’t escape it. In the same way, the first thing that people see in their spouses is the physical outlook. People are different and different women view sagging differently,” says Dbanga.
In Dbanga’s opinion, relationships are based on first impressions. Early mishaps like dress code should be scaled downed so that involved parties agree on each other’s preferences. He further points out that there are occasions when sagging may be pardoned. It is however not the best way to say “I am ready for marriage”.
He says women want a suitor who dresses like he can protect her – financially, physically, emotionally and psychologically. “A man with his trousers tied somewhere along his legs does not describe a safe pair of hands. If she says that she does not like sagging, then the man has to change for her to see him as the man,” he adds.
Fashion blogger and model Cheptoo Cece says that men have to style up, or they may never afford a decent lady. “I have preferences for how my man should look like. He should be presentable physically; clean shaven, well dressed (nothing sagged) and well groomed. Image is key from the word go,” she says adding that how a man dresses will tell you if he is the real deal ... or just a boy.