Telum Talks To... Wilson Lim, Editor-in-Chief, Men’s Folio Singapore
What role do you think Men’s Folio Singapore plays during these times, where so many people are working from home due to COVID-19 restrictions?
Men’s Folio has witnessed tremendous growth for 2020 by staying the course - contextualising international trends for the local market and showing ardent support for Asian talents.
With many Singaporeans working from home and being local tourists due to COVID-19 restrictions, I have personally witnessed the local market becoming more receptive to our local talents and what our little red dot has to offer. Men’s Folio has been the consistent guide for these.
Men’s Folio also consistently explores sub-cultures, which has seen a surge in interest during this period and allow Singaporeans to shed our constant bemoaning of how “Singapore is so sterile”.
How has COVID-19 changed men's fashion and what have you learnt from the new trends set last year?
I would say the COVID-19 pandemic threw a spanner in the middle of a men’s fashion resurgence leading to increased collaborations involving menswear and increasing participation in the Pre-Collections. With the global pandemic, fashion seems to have become more “safe” - classics that people have come to love. There is nothing right or wrong with them as it’s the typical cyclical nature of fashion, but it’s more about the way they are interpreted and contextualised beyond “trends”. For example, consider a WFH outfit beyond the army-issued T-shirt and shorts.
What are some of your most memorable experiences so far with Men’s Folio Singapore?
The most memorable experiences all involved working with our Singapore talents. I remember starting my journey in 2018 advocating these notions and met with bewildered queries of “have meh?”. The inertia at the beginning was extremely tough because partners were resistant as they were concerned if such content were able to gain traction.
We have come quite a long way since and have grown together with these Singapore talents. Every October, we invite all of them for our annual anniversary party (unfortunately, we had to skip this in 2020) and it’s an extremely proud and heartening moment to see all of us gathered and having fun. Beyond that, I see the invisible threads connecting all of us and supporting each other with our passion.
Other memorable experiences involve mentoring the Men’s Folio Models of The Year finalists every year. I started the competition after a brief conversation with Men’s Folio Co-Founder, Eddie Halim about what he hoped to see more from the brand he started. He told me it has always been a Singapore brand for Singaporeans and there is a need to show the world that Singapore has our own great male models who deserve to walk the international runways. Hence, Men’s Folio heavily spotlights our finalists to aid them in building their portfolio for when they are ready to venture out of Singapore.
What are some difficulties you face covering fashion in Singapore?
The most challenging time comes around during the Fall / Winter seasons when brands push out heavier outfits. The Singapore audience are averse to “winter clothes”, which are commonly associated with coats and anything made of wool. So when covering such fashion, there is an additional need to contextualise the breathability of such garments.
What do you love most about covering men’s fashion and luxury sectors?
I enjoy breaking down pre-conceived notions, like how dressing up for men is only relegated to suits and only the affluent can enjoy luxury. Men’s fashion has moved beyond archaic rules of “the belt leather matching the leather shoes” and luxury has since become so democratic with social media, so I believe the hang-ups should be done away.
Where do you get your inspiration for your features?
I rely heavily on my editorial team because I believe in the power of collaborative work. So every feature is always led by one editorial member and co-directed by another, I take on either roles with every feature. I have been fortunate to be given the freedom to choose my editorial team and anyone will come to realise that the Men’s Folio team cannot be a more disparate bunch of people - interests, hobbies and habits - working together.
Having been working in fashion journalism for more than seven years, has the industry changed since you started?
When I joined the industry, I was in the cusp of legacies where everyone working in the industry has been previously mentored by someone else. So, apprenticeship was a given. These days, the trend seems to be plucking “raw talent” from the streets and hoping they come into the role. No surprises that there have been many entrances and exits at the revolving door the last few years - because the industry requires more than aptitude to thrive.
If there is a fashion figure - dead or alive - that you would like to style, who would you pick?
Perhaps not style but a fashion figure I would like to have an in-depth conversation with. That would be Carine Roitfeld. Beyond her creative processes, I also admire her poise throughout her demanding career.