Photo by Zoltan Lorencz
Ionut Cercel is the Justin Bieber of manele, a genre of Romanian music that can best be described as a questionable combination of Gypsy folk and modern dance pop. He is 14 years old, has five solo albums under his belt, and is the subject of dozens of fan-created Facebook pages. All of this while dressing like a 45-year-old Vegas lounge singer (which, unsurprisingly, is a popular style in Romania). Recently, his brother started a clothing label under Ionut ’s name. Its target demographic? “Posh people.” I met Ionut for a coffee at a gas station—a place he “felt comfortable”—where he told me more about his style and I had a hard time resisting making jokes about coffee and Ionuts.
VICE: How do you select your clothes?
Ionut Cercel: Clothes are the only thing I spend a long time thinking about. I am very picky. I usually choose a suit, together with a shirt and a tie, depending on how they match and on my mood. I’ve liked wearing matching items since I was little. It makes people respect me, and it also shows I respect myself. If you are a serious kid, you don’t like to dress casual. How would you categorize the items in your wardrobe?
Stage costumes, school outfits, TV-show outfits, and accessories. I have about ten hats and 20 pairs of glasses. I like the round ones from Ray-Ban, because they cover up my face when I’m tired. I always wear this chainlet I got as a present from a Brazilian guy who owns a disco in Greece. I have to alter the watches I buy, because I have small wrists. When I want to look older, I wear a tie. What is the difference between your stage and school outfits?
The stage outfits are more serious—very elegant and expensive. The school clothes are classical. Everybody knows who I am at school; I don’t need to show off. But I have to look good onstage, because that’s what my fans care about. I dress quite posh. What does “posh” mean to you?
Fashionable. Clothes should show your best features. If it’s cheap, but I like how it looks, price doesn’t matter. Still, I feel expensive clothes fit you better. The shirt doesn’t need to have cufflinks, but it has to have a hard collar. I prefer fitted clothes; I don’t like clothes to hang about me.