The larger-than-life Bling Empire star paid a visit to the Tatler House Singapore and gave his good friend Vihari Poddar the inside scoop about the hotly anticipated new season
Let’s get one thing straight: Kane Lim is anything but a diva. The larger-than-life tastemaker is fun and effusive on set, bouncing from clothing racks to check out the fashion pulled for the shoot, to the hair and make-up station to gab with the make-up artist about the look of the day, all the while talking at a mile a minute.
But behind his carefree exterior, Lim is also into more serious pursuits, as we find out. For one, he is a serious real estate developer (he recently joined The Oppenheim Group—you know, the one on Selling Sunset); for another, he is a prolific investor. Among his recent investments are Teja Ventures, the first gender lens venture capital fund for emerging Asia, focusing on early stage technology companies for women, according to its LinkedIn. He also an early investor in Burgreens and Green Rebel, a Jakarta-based startup with organic plant-based eatery chains and a focus on plant-based ‘meat’ production, and, closer to home, he’s also put in money into the Happy Fish Swim School, which provides upscale swim classes catered for kids and adults alike.
Of course, he’s also the breakout star Netflix’s Bling Empire—whose second season is soon to be released—known for his fabulous collection of Christian Louboutin shoes as he is for his outré pronouncements, which are always fun to watch on screen and listen to in person. Here, he speaks to his dear friend, jeweller Vihari Poddar about dealing with (more) fame, an upcoming collaboration with new mum-to-be Rihanna and Fenty Beauty, and what to look forward to (and not) in the new season of Bling Empire.
In case you missed it: Bling Empire: Everything We’re Anticipating in Season 2
Vihari Poddar (VP): Okay, do you remember how we met?
Kane Lim (KL): Actually, I don’t, I’m sorry. [laughs]
VP: When’s the last time, or when’s the time you remember?
KL: I have really bad memory after the show. Maybe... I know I’ve known you for a decade, at least a decade.
VP: It was my birthday. Hint, hint.
KL: I don’t remember when...
VP: One°15 Marina. Hint, hint. [laughs]
KL: I still don’t remember! [laughs]
VP: I will now show you a photo from 2008...
KL: Don’t blackmail me with my picture!
VP: ...for you to remember. No, I think we met we met at a club, you know.
KL: Boy, I don’t go out. [laughs]
VP: Then how did we meet? We met through somebody.
KL: Well, there was no Tinder at that time.
VP: No, we didn’t meet through Tinder.
KL: No, I think I’ve known you for like, 10 years. At least 10 years.
VP: The last that I remember of you was when we were at my birthday party, and he came to One°15 Marina, and you were... 18?
KL: I try to forget, whatever. Because I grew up overweight. So I kind of forget those memories.
VP: No, you were so cute!
KL: No, don’t show [those pictures]. Don’t blackmail me. It’s worth a lot of money.
VP: Oh, yeah! When I run out of my kids’ college fund, I will whip that card out from my stash: ‘Oh, look! What’s this?’
VP: I will sell it for it a million dollars! Or maybe it will be worth more then, so we’ll wait and see. [laughs] So tell me what have you been up to in the past year or so?
KL: We’ve been shooting season two of Bling Empire, and it’s been six over months as the number one unscripted show of all time for Netflix. And, you know, we’re number one, I think, [or at least in the] top 50 in like, 50 countries. So Netflix was super happy, and they decided to pick it up again, and it’s just been shooting, shooting, shooting content. That’s what I’ve been up to—and back [in Singapore] for Chinese New Year.
VP: So happy for that.
VP: And how’s it been dealing with the intense scrutiny? You know, being a star.
KL: Oh, you have to be careful. I think it’s a great platform, but at the same time, you have be careful with your words, and even the choice of what you’re even like posting on social media, because everything is heavily scrutinised and everything can be taken out of context. And with cancel culture nowadays, you have to be even more careful. So, sometimes I don’t speak in public with people I don’t know, because everything could be taken out of context. In that sense, I think there’s a lot more scrutiny, and not just in my public life, but my personal life as well, because my parents are super private.
VP: I love them.
KL: I know. They’re just so sweet but, you know, unfortunately, they’ve been kind of thrown into this whole mix, as well. And I try to separate my personal and private [life] as much as possible, but it’s still quite difficult because LA has a huge... what do you call that? It’s all celebrity culture and paparazzi—so there are paparazzi following me at times, so I have to be really, really careful.
VP: Shit, I want to be your little puppy. [laughs]
KL: No, it’s not fun!
KL: That, and we’ve been really excited because there’s more exciting stuff to come. I love their taste in fashion and you can expect more of my personal stories.
KL: I think the whole premise of the show, yes, it’s playing, but at the same time, we want the heart, we want the soul. There are some surprise appearances, like A-list celebrities, pop stars, musicians and, and chefs—like, James Beard award-winning chefs. For me, you know, I go really deep into my insecurities, my weight loss journey, mental health issues.
VP: Oh, wow.
KL: At the same time like, also highlighting our culture. And also, people don’t think I actually work? Looking at my Instagram, you’d think all I do is shop, but if you really look at my Stories and like, you know, the work investments I’ve done... I actually work a lot. I work f*cking a lot. So let’s include that word. [laughs]
VP: I love the ring you’re wearing, Kane.
KL: Thank you. It’s from you. [both laugh]
VP: So, it’s also a shame that Jessey and Cherie are not joining you guys in the next season. How do you feel about that?
KL: Is it a shame? Oops.
VP: I guess not! There’s no follow up question. [laughs]
KL: See, I can’t lie!
VP: I know that not much impresses you—except my jewellery—these days. Was there a moment where you thought Bling Empire made like, a “wow” impact?
KL: Yeah, when Rihanna asked me like, when is season two coming.
KL: I mean, that is coming from like, like one of my favourite icons and I love her and she’s been super nice, super sweet to me. And when I got the message I was like, ‘Whoa, this cultural icon is asking me when is season two coming out?’ She was just like, ‘Sooooo..... when is season two coming out?’
VP: I guess that was my next question: exciting projects. What are some exciting projects coming up for you?
KL: I’ve done something with Fenty, I’ve done some amazing collaborations also with Vihari Jewels. And I have my real estate business. So most people don’t know that entertainment is not my real job. My real job is like real estate, investments, and you know, helping my family office. So I’m excited for that. Yeah.
VP: What’s your best recent discovery? Could be a fashion brand, jewellery brand, a boutique, a restaurant or location.
KL: I have to say it’s you—because you’re right there beside me?
VP: Oh, come on!
KL: Honestly! Like I told you, I’m super honest. In the past few years, I think you really rediscovered your love for jewellery again. I see it through your jewellery, I see it through your artwork. I think your jewellery is cool. I think you found a new love and passion for it, so I would say your jewellery, for sure. As you said, not many things impress me and for me, it’s all about craftsmanship, story and storytelling. And I think brands need to rediscover that. I understand it’s business, but at the same time you have to also have art in it.
VP: So what’s the last purchase you made?
KL: Your ring? [laughs] I’m wearing it right now. I’m wearing your orchid ring. Actually, I’m ordering your panda collection—I’m obsessed with pandas. But like, with orchids, I think they’re the national flower of Singapore, and you did such a good job with it. So that’s my last purchase and next one’s yours as well. I’m still waiting for my panda ring.
VP: Thank you.
KL: Yeah, because it’s sold out!
VP: Yeah, I know. What are you lusting after right now? Shopping-wise?
KL: Shopping-wise? Oh, people are going to think I’m so superficial. Lusting over... a brand that will pay me?
VP: That’s so brutally honest—I love it!
KL: Like, you know, it’s so funny that in the past, like people and brands look at me as a client, but now I have a different, you know, influencer or celebrity angle, and for me, I would love to collaborate with brands. I’m not talking about money, but like, in terms of just collabs and like, working with Dior, Chanel and stuff like that. I’m also lusting over one of your rings that I can’t buy right now because it’s too expensive. And your necklaces.
VP: What is your most prized possession in your wardrobe?
KL: I bought this Balmain outfit—I think was like, one of a kind or something. And why it’s so special is because that was when Rihanna first started following me and she was like, ‘Wear this is to my concert.’ Oh, I mean it weighs 130 pounds, but I literally wore like, a disco ball to her concert. That, to me, is like, my favourite, favourite outfit.
VP: How would you describe your personal style with three hashtags?
KL: Three hashtags? #blingthef*ckout.
VP: Ah, I like that. [laughs]
KL: Hashtag... I think right now, in this time, it’s #comfortable. [laughs]
VP: That’s a good hashtag!
KL: I used to like to dress up, but now it’s like, fashion is so... you can still have a look, but I want comfort as well, and not sit there and like, can’t eat my food, you know?
Shawn Paul Tan