Holey Moley: The Tom Daley Effect

Edwin Goh chose openwork for his red carpet appearance at the Star Awards last month. He must have felt extremely cool. Now, the star and his girlfriend are turning their hobbies into a business

Actor Edwin Goh (吴劲威) knew it would be brutally warm that Sunday afternoon outside Marina Bay Sands. He chose a V-neck, waisted tank top for the Star Awards red carpet, looking decidedly kerbside-casual. It was possible that Mr Goh wanted to let his fans and TV audiences know that his body was then trim and toned. Or that he was simply averse to the standard red carpet wear of suits, even if shirtless was the way to go at this year’s event, such as seen on his red carpet buddy Zhai Siming (翟思铭). But what he wore was not an ordinary tank top. It was a crocheted version, and one that the actor made for himself, proving that he can do more than slip-knotting. But why the vest could’t go with, say a shirt, wasn’t immediately known. Mr Goh’s choice of wearing his own crochet top was, of course, reminiscent of Tom Daley knitting his own sweaters and also wearing them to public events. Was another Mediacorp star mimicking what other international celebrities had done or worn?

By now, many know that one of the most known—and followed—celebrity needlework enthusiast is the Olympian/knitter Tom Daley, with the media reporting that Mr Daley was “knitting his way through the Tokyo Olympics” in 2021. The diver, in fact, started playing with knit stitches in 2020 (he also crochets and began in the same year) and later made a scarf for his mother. He told the BBC that he started the needle work because he is “terrible at sitting down”. So into knitting he became that he started the Made with Love by Tom Daley Instagram page (1.2 million followers to date) that became a website and then a book, with 30 knitting and crochet patterns. Mr Daley has been so pleased and proud of his output (he does have an eye for colour) that he has been wearing his own knitwear to high profile events such as the Today show in 2022. His designs were soon sold through the British retailer John Lewis.

The Unravel & bucket hat and handbag that are currently available at unravel and.com. Photos: unraveland/Instagram

Edwin Goh and his girlfriend Rachel Wan had at first started a “crochet club” in April amiably called Stitch and B*tch (could they have taken the naming cue from Bark and Bake, the Joo Chiat confectioner for canines?) Then last Sunday, they announced on Instagram the launch of their crochet-centric label Unravel & (could that also be a little inspired by & Other Stories?). And what, they did not reveal. For now their yarn craft comes in bags (two styles), beanies, and bucket hats. The designs won’t change the fashion accessories market, but they are, without doubt, discernibly more creative than the offerings of another-star-with-an-accessory-brand, the Beijing-based Eleanor Lee Kaixin (李凯馨), daughter of TV host Quan Yifeng (权怡凤). Mr Goh described the venture on Instagram as “something we’ve been working on for the past couple of months”. That they could set up shop in just two, and with only the pair using a hook to create merchandise from loops of yarn could be indication that this is monitising a hobby and may not be backed by a business plan or production schedule.

It is admirable that there are TV stars who would pursue their passions so intensely. It was baked goods in the beginning, and now needlework. But based on Unravel &’s limited product range, it may not be a protracted venture. Edwin Goh told host Jeremy Chan (田铭耀) at the Star Awards that it was his girlfriend (he did not identify her then) who taught him how to crochet. Thereafter, he furthered his learning online (whether by watching YouTube videos or other media, he did not say). Within months of achieving some proficiency in crocheting, he was able to become an instructor and open an online store, and model his own headwear. According to 8 Days, Unravel & welcomes crocheters without a sales outlet to peddle their wares through the brand’s website. It is possible then that more merchandise could be in the pipeline. It is likely, therefore, that there would be more than the beanie, itself a curious key product to sell on our scorching island.

The products of Unravel & are available online at unraveland.com. They are reportedly sold out. Screen shot (top): MediaCorp/YouTube