PinkPantheress and Central Cee are Britain’s anti-fashion icons

The UK’s crown prince and princess team up for the ‘Nice to meet you’ music video, their casual styles daring to question what’s expected from our chart topping titans.

PinkPantheress and Central Cee attract similarly rabid fans. So when the former posted a 16-second clip to her TikTok account previewing new music, it was immediately ripped to Twitter, repeated ad finitum across the site’s various stan accounts and pop culture aggregators. In the clip, the singer can be seen shooting a video for new single “Nice to meet you”, turning up to set in denim pedal pushers, calf-cutting suede boots, and a black cami of which you’d find on a vertiginous pile in Primark Canterbury. Next to her is Central Cee, and he looks like, well, Central Cee: full black tracksuit, black trainers, black fitted beanie. It’s the pair’s first official collab since the rapper sampled PinkPantheress’s “Just For Me” in 2021, a full circle moment for both their bases. But, in this meeting of musical minds, we also witness another converging: that of two similar fashion sensibilities.

While their individual styles don’t claim to take cues from each one another, both outfits are memorable for how hard they try, which is to say, not very much at all. They’re anti-fashion, capturing the way actual young British people might actually dress (minus the diamond chains, of course), as they walk to uni lectures or back from the shops. The fact that both artists reinterpret those codes so unthinkingly on a world stage is oddly refreshing. Pink is committed to a y2k aesthetic, but one that fashion commentator Rian Phin would call “true-thousands”: no gaudy McBling accoutrements, just the way people back then would really dress. Similarly, Cench has always walked to the beat of his own drum, often coming surgically attached to a tech fleece, now a defining garment of British youth. Together, the pair eschew regular pop star garb and opt for something more normcore, but not as you and I know it.

When the full video for “Nice to meet you” dropped today, more looks backed up this anti-fashion sentiment. There was Pink, knitted dress, bolero cardi and suede boots, all in varying shades of brown, looking very Keira Knightley on a pap run with Jamie Dornan in 2003. Groovy Chick splotches and Paperchase stencil shapes flash across the screen in bright colours, while dancers dart across a white background in a 2023 re-up of Britannia High. Central Cee pops up again in a pretty much identical second look, but this time in green. It reminds me of a TikTok the rapper posted after an appearance at the 2022 Fashion Awards, when Twitter dragged him for wearing a tracksuit on the carpet. “I dress like this 365 days a year”, he said. “I’m not changing it for one day, not even my wedding day. You lot love going to these events in fancy dress, dressed as other people. I went as myself.”

In 2023, Pink’s style represents some risk. It takes hefty contacts to pull all the latest looks, but even more mettle to eschew brand name roulette in favour of a simpler rail. You can almost hear the singer’s stylist Milena Agbaba frantically scrolling Depop to see if daisylou69 has got anything new in, trawling the depths of Vinted to find the perfect drop waist skater skirt. While it’s very unlikely that two people’s personal style signals some sort of societal shift, it’s a welcome reminder that there are other ways to approach being a pop star in the 21st century. Ultimately, what makes Pink and Cench some of the best dressed young people in Britain is that they don’t really want to be – and that insouciance is catnip to any fashion commentator looking to bottle cool. Of course, great style never exists in a vacuum, and we may not be saying this if both weren’t huge stars, if they actually were those uni students trudging back from a lecture. But, for now let’s just enjoy the clothes, in all their off-kilter, anti-fashion glory.

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