Central Cee: style icon for the people
This year’s breakthrough rapper is up-ending high fashion hierarchies
image Instagram via @jacquemus
words Megan Wallace and Lucy O'Brien
It goes without saying, Central Cee’s “Doja” was one of 2022’s definitive tracks and firmly established the 24-year-old as a major artist in the UK music scene. But while his musical talents are self-evident at this point, it’s time to give him his fashion flowers.
The CC fashion formula is simple. He's the king of tracksuits, beanies and the timeless cosy boy puffa in winter and sleeveless vests, caps and low-rise trousers in summer. It’s comfy and cohesive - and it’s not so far out of reach.
Love or hate this look, he proved this year that whether he’s posing on the red carpet or rubbing shoulders with the fashion elite, he’s going to wear, well, whatever the hell he likes, thank you very much. Cee is a style icon for the people, if there ever was one.
Rather than going for the aspirational, he’s giving us relatable fits. In fact, if we ignore the fact that he can afford to accessorise everything with a Chanel, double C logo chain (which, conveniently, bears his initials) he wears the kind of fashion we non-celebs encounter IRL on the daily. Like the hot friend of a friend we meet, however briefly, at a house party and will follow on Instagram until the end of time.
Take his recent appearance at the British Fashion Awards. He headed down the red carpet in a Quechua jacket and Nike joggers (which he has said he picked up from Decathlon, big mood). And because this man loves his status accessories, he topped it all off with a Dior beltbag. While others might have wavered in a similar setting, or felt out of place, he looked totally unbothered amid a sea of suits and evening gowns. We’ve got no choice but to stan.
Following the event, he took to TikTok to reveal that not only had he dressed without a stylist, but that he really couldn't care less about any dress code - unless he’s getting married, that is. “I dress like this 365 days a year, I’m not changing it for one day. It’s not even my wedding day,” he said. “You lot love going to these events dressed in fancy-dress; I went as me.”
He may be one of many familiar faces repping streetwear but - unlike many others - he stays true to the look’s accessible roots. Streetwear on celebs is normally styled to be glossier – think Billie Eilish’s Louis Vuitton monogram looks - certainly not a simple tracksuit you could cop for yourself if you wanted to. Central Cee, on the other hand, is reflecting how people actually dress and showing that it’s not about the clothes, it’s about the attitude.
His approach has already won him fans in the industry - such as Simone Porte Jacquemus, who tapped the musician for the Jacquemus winter campaign and recently invited him down to Paris for the brand’s Le Raffia runway show. Clearly, Cee is onto something.
In fact, the rapper’s fashion realism could well be predicting a wider vibe shift in the world of fashion. Trend analysts have been predicting a shift from the rose-tinted Y2K nostalgia which has dominated the trend cycle for the past few years; think Blumarine butterfly halter tops or I.Am.Gia’s physics-defying cutouts which take us straight back to the world of MTV video vixens. Instead, fashion critics like Rian Phin think we’re headed towards “true thousands”: that is, how the average person on the street dressed in the 2000s. You know: blue wash jeans, rimless glasses and really long vests.
And while the noughties resurgence has mostly been concentrated in womenswear, a renaissance mining sitcoms, discarded fashion catalogues and Getty image archives from the decade could open the doors to a whole new world of Y2K menswear revolving around minimalism, practicality and a normcore sensibility which speaks to Gen Z’s high-low mentality.
Whether or not you’re ready to hop on the true-thousands wave, it’s worth taking a leaf out of Cee’s book: don’t just copy trends, cultivate your own style and wear it with pride.