Known for her colorful braids and dreadlocked mane, Kelly Lim, aka Kelly Limerick, is an unconventional character that’s easily spotted in Singapore’s sea of cookie-cutter looks.
Learn more about her and her craft and why she’d never wear ugly clothes.
Hi Kelly! We’re curious — How do your dreadlocks work?
There are many different types, but those I create for myself are usually made separately (either by wool or synthetic hair), then braided into my hair.
They stay on for about two weeks and I bathe (and shampoo) and sleep with them in. For times when I only need them for a day, I wear Dread Falls, which are dreads attached to a rubber band that you can tie onto your hair and remove whenever you like.
Sometimes, I do Yarn Braids, which is often confused with dreads, but is actually something else entirely since it can’t be reused.
What started your love affair with knitting and crochet? What’s your approach to the craft to give it a more contemporary spin?
I’ve always been intrigued by crochet, knitting and crafting since I was a child. It feels like knitting and crochet has always been a part of my life — it’s not just a pastime or a job; it is very essentially me.
Crochet and knitting can easily become ‘craftsy’. By simply picking a better quality yarn and choosing different hues, the end product can look different.
I chose to move into Lace Crochet recently because I was intrigued by how small the needle size (0.75mm) is. That makes the work look more exquisite and delicate.
By using metallic thread instead of the predictable cotton one, the lace is refreshed, thus making it look more contemporary.
Your look is undoubtedly Japanese. Tell us a bit about your life in Japan and what particular sub-culture inspired your look.
It’s very interesting that people always say my style is Japanese, but when Japanese IN Japan asked me what my style is, I couldn’t possibly tell them my style is ‘Japanese’!
The Japanese themselves find it hard to categorize me. Each of their sub-cultures has a very distinct look — almost like having a checklist to fulfill.
The reason they can’t categorize me is that I am somehow floating between many styles. For me, I like to think that I might die anytime and I don’t want to die in ugly clothes.
So even if I’m going nearby to buy food, I wear stuff that I can die gloriously in. HAHA!
Can you walk us through your fashion transformation?
I think my look and style has evolved quite a bit, but I don’t think the core of it has changed. I have always loved one-off, original things since I was a kid and that’s why I started creating my own stuff since I was young.
I used to be flashier in my Polytechnic days; perhaps I was more experimental then! Towards my final year I started leaning towards more utilitarian pieces that attracted me with their details and sewing technique, as well as fabric.
I love vintage clothes too because they’re well made, unlike the low-quality garments you get from fast fashion brands.
How do people in Singapore react when they see you? What’s the most memorable reaction you’ve gotten?
I realised kids are really amused by me, perhaps because I look like a game character. They often point, smile, and say hi to me. It’s so sweet! I hope it inspires them to become more adventurous with their clothes in future. The older generation (auntie and uncles) are funny.
When I buy food at hawker centres, they often ask what the dreads are made of and whether they can touch it. Foreigners are receptive too and I get smiled at.
Unfortunately, people around my age and the ‘working adult’ crowd aren’t so forgiving. I even got my photo taken and put on one of those STOMP-like Facebook pages. The most memorable reaction I’ve gotten was from this girl while I was eating at a shopping mall.
She was staring me up and down, with this smirk on her face that said, “Oh god, look at the freak trying to be fashionable”. It was so condescending that I felt embarrassed BEING MYSELF.
When it comes to fashion and style, what would you like to see more in Singapore?
BE YOURSELF. It is probably the most simple, but most difficult piece of advice to follow. Some people think they are just one small speck in the country and would not make a difference — but NO, what you choose to leave your house in today impacts the people around you.
If you chose to wear red lipstick today, it might make me feel like wearing red lipstick tomorrow. It’s more connected than everyone thinks it is and I really wish we could all pool our original style together to form this circle of inspiration for each other.
Recent trips to Tokyo have not been as interesting for us — most people are dressed minimally. Do you think there has been a decline in weird and wonderful fashion Tokyo is known for?
The sad truth is that while people are still well dressed, original style is definitely declining and you see people actually go for ‘Normcore’ looks instead. While Takeshita Dori used to be full of original stuff, it’s become more of a tourist place with imitation goods and trend items.
Japanese love to dress up for particular occasions, so if you go on event days (or even Bunka Fashion College’s annual Colour Code Day), you’ll definitely see some crazy stuff.
For more offbeat fashion, try Koenji or Shimokitazawa. Harajuku is definitely a good place to start though. Try taking the back streets or steering away from the main tourist areas! That’s where the real people hang.
Which offbeat pop culture icon do you relate to?
Can I say Kurt Wagner (Nightcrawler) from X-Men? Not in a ‘fashion’ kind of way, but out of all the X-men, Nightcrawler had it the worst because he was born looking like a ‘freak’; rejected his whole life and even hated when he was trying to save the world.
He once said, “I learnt very early that I must accept what I am or go mad. Though I am now occasionally crazy, I am not mad”.
You can learn more about kelly at kllylmrck.com and can follow her at Instagram @ kllylmrck