As fashion-minded fiends, we are always on the lookout for fresh fits and friends. We both first noticed Matthew Lim last year in Coffeehouse, wearing a denim jacket over a tan hoodie paired with Adidas Ronin NMDs. To us, it was clear that he had mastered minimalism and color matching. For Matthew, fashion is a way for him to explore and showcase his identity to the world at large.
[Mai Ton]: How did you get into fashion?
[Matthew Lim]: I was this very quiet awkward child growing up. The more I became confident with myself — the more I understood what works, what doesn’t work — I slowly was able to like what I wore.
Ton: What do you think your fashion is nowadays? What’s your style?
Lim: I’m at this intersection of my life where I want to dress more professionally, so more along the lines of Western-preppy style, but at the same time, I really love pulling from Eastern influences. And there are ways to do it. Like Muji. They take the idea of cutting everything that is unnecessary about an item and leaving just the necessary components, so whoever uses it can imbue their own personality into it.
Ton: Would you say that you’re trying to imbue your own personality into a professional plus Eastern spin?
Lim: Yeah. While also spending as [little] money as I can, ‘cause I’m poor as fuck.
Ton: What’s the fashion scene like in L.A.?
Lim: People in L.A. just kinda wanna be cool. I think East Coast tends to be more prep. In L.A., I think there tends to be more freedom and also a lot of plasticity from West Coast culture, which is awkward for me. Because as much as I love fashion and clothes, there’s a lot about the industry that is steeped in consumerism and aggressive marketing.
Ton: How do you bridge that gap?
Lim: It’s finding brands that you really want to support. So much of modern fashion has become very quick, and I think the older you become and especially once you start earning your own income, you have to really think where you want to spend your money and what kind of companies you want to support.
Ton: What are your favorite brands that you think are worthy of your money?
Lim: Everlane is an easy choice, just because their whole shtick is radical transparency. You can reach out and email them and talk to them. They’ve been very candid about their whole process. I think Muji in terms of their design philosophy. Then also a company that I don’t have money to support but would love to, [Adonis]. They’re another small clothing company based in L.A.
Vy Pham: What do you think about the lack [of options] in men’s clothing?
Lim: That’s just a frustration throughout fashion in general. For men, there’s a set ideal for how men should dress, and it’s in a suit or a button down and a sweater. For [pants], it’s either straight or slim fit, whereas for women, you have all kinds of different pants that you can wear. It’s frustrating for me because I’ve been searching for wide legged pants for guys for a year now.
Ton: How has the Rice environment impacted your fashion sense?
Lim: I meet people from the East Coast and also here that I’m able to bounce ideas off of. I’m not isolated like in L.A., which is a lot of street fashion hypebeast.
Ton: Do you have any trends that you don’t like?
Lim: I really hate chunky shoes. Like Balenciaga’s chunky shoes. And the Yeezy 500s. They look lik
e a regular shoe that’s had a cancerous mess. I can’t understand.
This is my philosophy behind it. It’s not for comfort. The Yeezy 350s are stupid comfortable and they look fine!
Ton: Can you talk about your outfit today?
Lim: I like this shirt because one, it’s super comfortable. And two, it isn’t aggressive. I don’t like brands that are really aggressive with their branding. I like brands that distinguish themselves by their fit, and the fit with this one is really unique. I think it draws inspiration from much older Japanese shirts. They took the silhouette of the upper half of old Japanese outfits and they turned it into a shirt, which I love.
Ton: What does fashion mean to you?
Lim: It’s constantly walking that line between trying to care about what I think is ethical and fashionable, but also making sure not to care too much, to the point that I begin to care what other people think of what I’m wearing I fall into this trap of wanting to look a certain way. There’s a duality to everything and I think I like it, and it also stresses me out constantly.
Ton: What’s your favorite article of clothing?
Lim: Honestly, it’s these shoes. I saw these on Instagram, and it only took me three years to find them! They don’t have any really aggressive branding on them so I didn’t even know where to start looking. Now I realize the silhouette being the Adidas NMD, but even then, it’s not your traditional NMD. They’re the ronin color way
. A ronin is a samurai whose master has been killed so they no longer have a master. They kind of symbolize constantly searching for redemption since it’s their responsibility that the person they’re trying to protect has died. I don’t know if Adidas was super aware of that when they designed it, but I like the idea of constantly trying to prove something.
This interview has been edited for clarity.
The Threadsher Exclusive is a fashion column written by Mai Ton and Vy Pham.