Cedric the Entertainer throws his hat in the ring with Who Ced?
Cedric the Entertainer has turned one of his sartorial signatures into a money-making venture by launching a line of high-end headwear 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, All The Rage thought it only appropriate to pepper the pair with a few questions of our own.
All The Rage: Cedric, you’re almost always rocking a stylish chapeau. Where does your affinity for hats come from?
Cedric the Entertainer: “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.
CE: 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.
ATR: How did the two of you come to partner on a line of hats?
CE: 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.
Gary Garner: We decided about a year ago that we were going to do something together and we’ve been on a rocket-propelled pace ever since.
ATR: So you started working on the hats last summer?
CE: 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.
ATR: 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?
CE (chuckling): It’s my way of getting people to question -– to ask themselves things: ‘Who said?’ ‘It’s worth what?’
ATR: Are the hats you’re wearing on “It’s Worth What?” from your new line?
CE: All of them -– and we get a credit endorsement at the end of the show too.
ATR: Your website refers to a VIP "Egg & Butter Club," and a version of that phrase also appears inside the hats. What does it mean?
Gary Garner: In the ‘30s, a “butter-and-egg man” was gangster slang for a guy who ran things -– a guy who called the shots and was in a position to make things happen for himself and the people around him. We didn’t want to steal that [exact phrase] so we changed it around a little bit to “egg-and-butter men." The club is going to be a kind of fraternal organization that includes our fan base. People who join are going to be invited to cool events and get to hang out with us.
ATR: Has the club held any events yet?
GG: A couple hundred people have already signed up, but that probably won’t happen until we start selling at [bricks and mortar] retail, which will be in the spring.
ATR: Do you have plans to expand the collection?
CE: I want to get into doing some even more exclusive designs –- hats with rabbit fur or beaver –- maybe add in some diamonds.
ATR: 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?
CE: 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!'
Cedric the Entertainer can be seen entertaining -- and wearing Who Ced? headgear -- Tuesday nights at 8 p.m. as the host of NBC's "It's Worth What?" game show.
-- Adam Tschorn
Photos, from top: Cedric the Entertainer, left, and business partner Gary Garner.
Fedora and eight-panel golf caps from the Who Ced? line of hats that launched online July 27.
Cedric in one of the hats that bears his nickname. Credit: Who Ced?