Cedric the Entertainer has turned one of his sartorial signatures into a money-making venture by launching a line of high-end head wear called Who Ced? with business partner Gary Garner.
The line, which launched online in late July, includes knit beanies, herringbone and wool chenille baseball caps, tweed and pinstripe driving caps, newsboy and eight-panel golf caps and brushed wool fedoras.
Prices range from $45 to $125, and most hats (save the ball caps) are lined in a proprietary shade of purple silk called “purquois” and are emblazoned with some version of a double question mark logo.
Since the comedian-actor-game-show host is clearly an unabashed fan of the question mark, we thought it only appropriate to pepper him with a few questions of our own.
Q: Cedric, you’re almost always rocking a stylish chapeau. Where does your affinity for hats come from?
A: It comes from growing up in St. Louis and being a Midwest guy. In the late ’70s and early ’80s, I was most impressed by the guys ahead of me in high school. I graduated in ’82, so these were the guys who graduated in ’79 and ’80. When they became seniors, their whole look was to look like a man, so they’d wear cool clothes — suits and hats. The hat thing was it.
So when I first started doing comedy and kind of wanted to represent St. Louis, that was the imagery I went to right away: hats and, at the time, glasses. It was my way of signifying that I was doing big things around town.
Q: Can you remember the very first hat you bought to help you achieve that look?
A: It was a Dobbs hat, and it was a dark hunter green. I remember going back and forth between a black hat and this green one. Those were my youthful days, and although the black hat was one I could have worn with more things, I thought the green one had more personality — it was just me.
Q: How did the two of you come to be partners on a line of hats?
A: We were introduced by a mutual friend. We started talking over a few business ideas. I threw a few things out there, and Gary’s a doer. It didn’t take much to get things up and running.
Q: So you started working on the hats last summer?
A: We started developing the hats last October so they’d be ready for MAGIC (the twice-yearly trade show) in Las Vegas this past February. We came up with a name, a logo, started buying fabric — really becoming hat makers.
Q: Speaking of which, the line is called “Who Ced?” and the logo you’ve chosen is a question mark and an upside-down question mark, and you’re the host of an NBC game show called “It’s Worth What?” What’s the story? Do you have a particular aversion to declarative sentences?
A: (chuckling) It’s my way of getting people to question — to ask themselves things: “Who said?” “It’s worth what?”
Q: Are the hats you’re wearing on “It’s Worth What?” from your new line?
A: All of them — and we get a credit endorsement at the end of the show, too.
Q: Your website refers to a VIP “Egg & Butter Club,” and a version of that phrase also appears inside the hats. What does it mean?
A: An egg-and-butter man is the kind of man who would wear these hats — a leader, a go-getter, the kind of guy who lives life above the rules but within the rules.
(Garner explains that in the ’30s, a “butter-and-egg man” was gangster slang for a guy who ran things. They changed the phrase around a bit. The club is going to include their fan base.)
Q: Do you have plans to expand the collection?
A: I want to get into doing some even more exclusive designs — hats with rabbit fur or beaver, maybe add in some diamonds.
Q: If you could choose just one famous head to put one of your hats on, to really give it maximum exposure, whose would it be?
A: Barack Obama. When JFK didn’t wear a hat, he kind of killed it from the presidential standpoint, right? So all we need is for the president to start wearing a hat again and everyone will be: “OK, hats are back!”