The Gentleman: Inside the Closet of Sugbo Mercado’s Michael Karlo Lim

About a year ago, a certain online persona sent out a tweet about how Sugbo Mercado’s main man Michael Karlo Lim was always dressed in a suit despite the country’s sometimes scorching temperatures, only the tweet was phrased in a less flattering light. It may be a testament to how nice a person Karlo actually is that so many people had risen to the defense, which prompted the deletion of said post—but, to be fair, he does have a lot of jackets.

Simple white clothing racks create a sense of coherence among Karlo’s personality-packed collection of clothes–one of which is a fringed suede jacket that he hopes to wear to a country album launch soon.

In fact, one rack is dedicated entirely to them, from a pale pink suit that was custom-made during a recent trip to India, to a mini collection of blazers from Uniqlo. The most distinct one, though, would have to be the suede Wild West-inspired version that was on display on the clothes stand in the corner. “This is where I usually put the outfits I already planned out for events, and since I’m going to a country album launch this weekend, this is perfect, right?”

This mother and daughter pair of giraffes is something Karlo had bought off a window display from Celine, and now shows off right outside his closet. “I was planning on turning them into lamps, but I never got around to it,” he admits.

As we go through the rest of the clothes he had organized in the bedroom-turned-closet (“Okay, to be honest, I still have unpacked luggage from my days in Beijing hidden in storage,” he admits sheepishly when I tell him he had less clothes than I expected), it’s clear that Karlo is one who is committed to dressing well, but doesn’t take fashion too seriously.

“I wouldn’t say I like dressing up, but rather love dressing well,” Karlo shares. “Clothes are an extension of character. Personal style says much about who you are without having to say anything. What you have on is both your introduction and part of your story. Still, this all really isn’t about impressing anyone but ultimately feeling good about myself.”

Although he hardly wears it, a pair of jootis he got from India is among his most interesting pair of shoes. “Do you know there is no right or left shoe when it comes to jootis? They’re all the same,” he shares.

Having this philosophy in mind, it’s then easy to understand the way Karlo picks out his clothes—each of his pieces tell a certain story, whether that’s a specific moment in time or a different aspect of his personality. He pulls out a pair of chambray harem pants that he’d so far only worn in India, which seems appropriate. He shows off the considerably extensive collection of floral shirts that have been on rotation all summer, acquired from different sources (which includes girlfriend Vanessa East’s own closet). Lined up against the walls and on low shelves are his collection of shoes that include white sneakers, classic leather oxfords, sequined jootis, and fur slippers.

Besides the clothes, the other thing that takes up the most space on Karlo’s shelves is his collection of pop-up books, which range from fairy tales like Beauty and the Beast, to literary classics like Frankenstein and The Odyssey. “I love them,” he says. “There’s so much thought that goes into making each one.”

Of course, the space isn’t one that’s dedicated to purely fashion. His good taste translates to design, which is seen in thoughtful details throughout the room—a fur throw from New Zealand that’s become a staple backdrop for flatlays is casually strewn over the

Of course, the space isn’t one that’s dedicated to purely fashion. His good taste translates to design, which is seen in thoughtful details throughout the room—a sheepskin throw from New Zealand stands out against the modern gray couch, while a Chiquita by Kenneth Cobonpue sits in another corner. A wooden bookshelf lines one wall, housing a collection of knick-knacks that include a Lego McDonalds burger set, a model of the Gungan sub from Phantom Menace, and Karlo’s extensive collection of pop-up books.


Shari Quimbo
Shari Quimbo

Shari Quimbo is the managing editor of Zee Lifestyle. In her spare time, she likes cooking for family and friends, and escaping to the beach on weekends. Follow Shari's adventures on Instagram at @sharinuh.

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