Love Island and Dancing on Ice star Kem Cetinay is taking his eccentric style out of Essex and into Penneys stores everywhere this summer with his Primark Man x Kem collection launching this May.
We sat down to chat with the 22-year-old TV treasure ahead of his Penneys launch party in Dublin last night to chat all things fashion, Love Island and what it’s like working with his mam.
Affordable fashion is something that’s always been important to Kem. His mam, Figen Cetinay, is a fashion designer and was a big style inspiration for him and his brother when they were growing up.
“Because my mum is a fashion designer, affordable fashion has been something that she always preached to me and my brother – not always going for the super expensive brands and just picking things that work for you.
“She taught us about mixing different colours and styles and always made us focus more on suiting outfits to you, rather than buying it because everyone else is buying it or because it’s expensive.”
Penneys seemed like the perfect brand for Kem to to collaborate with as he has always worn their clothes.
“I always wore Primark so I think they noticed that,” he said.
Kem was also really excited to work with the brand after finding out he would be the first male ambassador for Penneys ever. “I never knew that they had never had a male ambassador. We started talking about how a summer range would be great, obviously because my background is from Love Island, then we started bouncing ideas and it just worked.”
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Been trying to keep this a secret for so long… I’m SO happy to finally announce that I am @primark first ever Menswear ambassador! I remember shopping here with my mum since I was a kid and I’m very proud to be a part of this exciting project. Can’t wait for you to see what’s coming up ? #PrimarkManxKem
The collection is exactly what you’d imagine when you think of Love Island – a fun range of bright summer pieces with loud patterns and the shortest of shorts, which is exactly what Kem wanted when designing it.
“I looked at what I would wear first. I didn’t just think all about me, but it’s my range so it had got to be what I would wear, so we went for lots of bright colours. Obviously we made the shorts a lot shorter – it was hard to convince Primark to do that but they understand, that’s what’s in fashion – boys do wear short shorts!”
The collection breaks the boundaries of what men’s fashion used to be – think floral prints, bright pinks and funky co-ords. However, Kem’s well aware that not everyone is “an Essex boy” like him and has incorporated some plainer, smarter styles into the collection.
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So excited to finally reveal that I’ll be launching a menswear collection in May! I’ve spent the past 6 months working with Primark designing a range that I would want to wear?I hope you guys like the clothes as much as I do & it’s arriving just in time for summer! @primark.man #PrimarkMANXKem [AD]
If you’ve been nosing around Instagram lately, you’ll have noticed that man bags are making a big comeback with the Islander boys. Last season’s Josh and Wes were spotted with some Balenciaga clutches at an event in Dublin in March, and now Kem’s told us he’s no stranger to a bag himself.
“I always have a bag. Partly because I always have my portable charger on me – that’s where it started – but it’s become an accessory for me. If I’m wearing a plain outfit I’ve always got a bag.
“I do get a lot of people coming up to me and be like, ‘are you holding a bag?’ and I’m like, ‘it’s not really a handbag, but if it was, am I not allowed to carry stuff as well?'”
Kem’s mam is his right-hand woman when it comes to fashion. She styles him for every event, including every Dancing on Ice show he was on in 2018, and he wouldn’t have it any other way.
“My mum knows me better than a stylist. She doesn’t do it as a mum, she wants me to feel good in it. She’ll tell me about most things that look good and eventually I get it – she knows what’s in and what’s not. But if I don’t feel comfortable in something she isn’t like a mum saying ‘you have to wear this’. Even sometimes I’ll really like something that she doesn’t like, but she’ll say give it a go and sometimes she’ll end up liking it.”
Kem first rose to fame when he was crowned winner of ITV show Love Island in 2017 with his then girlfriend Amber Davies. Unlike most TV shows, Kem revealed to us that the contestants did all of their own styling and there were no hair and makeup teams involved.
“You don’t have a stylist or hair and makeup – nothing like that”, he says. “You bring your suitcases in and that’s by your bed and whatever you brought was yours.”
Because of this, Kem and the other Islanders became what he describes as a “big family”.
“I guess when it’s a big group of people you all help each other out – you share.
“Everyone used to love sharing my clothes because I overpacked so much. I brought like, four pairs of white jeans and everyone was like, ‘can I wear your white jeans?’ You needed to change it up or you were going to run out.
“I’ve never lived with anyone, never mind that amount of people. It was like being at UNI. If one of the boys was getting ready for a date, one of the girls would run over and start powdering his face because everyone was just looking out for each other. The girls used to help me iron my clothes because I can’t iron. That’s just how it was, you were like one big family really.”
Although his romantic relationship from the show didn’t work out, one relationship that has seen it through the test of time is that of Kem and his fellow Islander Chris Hughes. The two have gone on to create a song together, “Little Bit Leave It”, which was released in 2017. They’re also the stars of the TV show You vs. Chris and Kem.
Chris also hasn’t been a stranger to Ireland over the last few months – only last week he was spotted in Wicklow with his new girlfriend, Little Mix’s Jesy Nelson. Although he hasn’t actually met her yet, Kem told us he can’t wait to go out with the new couple.
“I was buzzing when they got together. It was nice to see him meet someone, I knew he wanted to but it came so out of the blue! One day we were together and he was on his phone all day and I was like ‘who are you texting?’ and then he showed me.
“I didn’t realise it was that serious until a few weeks later and I was like ‘where you at tonight?’ and he said they were going here and there. He seems really happy and they’re a cute couple. I’m sure the next time I see him he’ll introduce me. It’ll be interesting to meet her actually, I’m always up for third wheeling – that’d be fun.”
The 16-piece Primark Man x Kem collection ranges from €3 – €10 and lands in stores early this May.