At 19, Dickson Lim is the youngest designer to debut in the prestigious Kuala Lumpur Fashion Week (KLFW) 2020. He is also the only Sarawakian designer to take part in this year’s edition. Dickson details how he fought to pursue his passion and dreams.
Rejected but not dejected
Filled with ambition, determination and perseverance, not once has Dickson Lim let the voices of disapproval gets into his head. This year, he is the youngest and only Sarawakian designer to showcase his collection at the recent Kuala Lumpur Fashion Week (KLFW) 2020.
The 20-year-old recalled that last year, he wanted to attend KLFW, but he was rejected at the entrance. He didn’t realise that the showcase was an invite-only event.
Established in 2013, the annual KLFW is a must-see on the social calendar every year and attracts thousands of visitors from fashion insiders to celebrities.
Nonetheless, through his love for fashion and eagerness to learn, he managed to impress his way over to debut in Malaysia’s biggest fashion week.
Dickson always had big ambitions. “In secondary school, I would tell my friends one day they are going to see me direct a Hollywood blockbuster!” he said. But his friends and family have always see him as naive for having big dreams.
However, realising the dream was impossible, he instead went to work at his parents’ tailoring shop, “I thought of giving up because my friends and family said that I will never achieve my dream and that I’m just wasting my time. So I ended up helping my parents with their business instead. However, I always knew that one day, I will be something more,” Dickson said.
With an interest in high fashion and luxury pieces, Dickson would recreate the ones that he could not afford. “That was how I learned to sew. I started making high fashion pieces that I saw on international runways and I would practice every day to make it perfect and if there are mistakes, I would redo it all over again.”
The young lad admitted that he had always set high expectations for himself, “If can’t meet my own expectations, I would reflect about it constantly, even after I get back from work, even during meal times. I suppose that was how I learned very quickly.”
Flashback to July last year, Dickson revealed that he knew nothing about tailoring. A conversation he had with his father was the beginning of his journey in fashion design. “I told him I wanted to recreate a coat, and he told me that making a coat is the hardest part to learn in tailoring. It would take years, as I will need to master the basics like shirts and pants.”
The strong-willed and determined Dickson said that he does not believe that it will take him years, “I said to my father, I will learn it within weeks.”
Training under three different ‘sifus’ (masters) in the coming weeks, Dickson said that it was the third one from Kuala Lumpur who was the supportive one. “He’s the one that taught me how to make a coat. And on the third day of class, he entrusted me to sew on his customer’s coat.
According to him, the third ‘sifu’ had also encouraged him to make the silver coat that he wanted to in the beginning. “I managed to complete it before I returned home to continue my studies. I recreated the coat as a souvenir for myself.”
A golden opportunity
Returning home from Kuala Lumpur after being rejected to enter the KLFW in August last year, Dickson received news that KLFW’s founder, Andrew Tan will be giving a talk in Kuching.
“It was just two weeks after KLFW 2019 when the talk was held. I wore the silver coat that I made. Andrew saw me and complimented me for it,” Dickson shared.
“Then he gave me the opportunity to be part of KLFW. He asked me to hand in 30 of my designs for him to review. At that moment, I knew nothing of designing, but of course, I’m not going to tell him no!”
As the opportunity was hard to come by, Dickson wasted no time learning from Youtube and took online courses on fashion design. “I learned everything, as much as I can. I would sketch the designs in between school and work. This was my one shot at becoming a fashion designer.”
At the recently held KLFW 2020 which was held digitally, the 19-year-old showcased 12 pieces which were far from the ordinary menswear. His daring outlook in designs brought a whole new level of boldness and groundbreaking. As a newcomer in the fashion industry, ‘unique’ is the only word to appropriatley describe Dickson’s designs.
Making dad proud
Undoubtedly, his dad played a huge role during his journey to becoming a designer. Dickson remembered that after the KLFW, “We were in the car, and dad praised me for my hard work. It was the nicest thing he has ever said to me. All my life, I had only hoped he would be proud of me. To be honest, I would not have worked so hard, if dad was not as harsh on me.”
His dad’s success in tailoring was also what motivated Dickson to work hard. “My dad used to do multiple odd jobs. He started from nothing, and now he has six outlets around Sarawak.
“If he managed to make to make something out of nothing, then I have no excuses with all the resources he provided me with. I am who I am today thanks to him,” Dickson said.
Wanting to motivate others with his success, Dickson hopes to be an inspiration to young creative artists, “No matter what others are saying, if you put your passion and determination in something, I am sure you will succeed. Everyone have the potential to be great. It’s up to us to make it happen.”