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‘There are a lot of things that are hidden in Milan. They're like flowers growing among the grass.’

Gems in this

Photo>>>Michael Yohan & Jordan Anderson


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Feature by Feature: Marley Ng

Jordan Anderson has made it his mission to uplift diverse voices throughout Italy. As a queer Black man, the writer and creative director had a rough upbringing in Kingston, Jamaica, before eventually finding his creative footing in Milan.

Spurred by a lack of awareness about the intersectionality of being Black and queer, Jordan created My Queer Blackness, My Black Queerness (MQBMBQ) as a safe space and platform to showcase stories and issues that were often overlooked. Jordan is also the Editor-At-Large of hip cultural bible NSS Magazine, and has written for publications such as Vogue Italia, Document Journal and Curated By. We caught up with the trendsetter about his winding journey into fashion, his current obsession with the sky, and the most culturally rewarding spots to visit in Milan.


On your early life in Jamaica

Growing up in Kingston was definitely a very interesting experience. It was rough. I'm not going to lie: it was not the most ideal city to grow up in as a queer person. Thankfully I lived in a semi-secluded area, but it was really was not the easiest.

‘People think in such a simple way: you're either Black or queer, and can’t be both.’

On finding your path in fashion

I started fashion design school, but after a year I was like, ‘Oh my god, this is so hard. This is literally mathematics.’ So I dropped out. I interned at a store and then met the Lifestyle Editor of the national newspaper, who asked me if I wanted a job as a reporter. I was like, ‘It sounds like I get to go to free parties, so why not?’ It turned out to not be like that at all — it was a The Devil Wears Prada situation. She actually said that in the interview, and I was like ‘Okay, sure,’ because I hadn't seen the movie! It was rough: working long hours and writing to the point of perfection. I cried. But at the same time, I learned a lot. I loved writing about fashion, but I also realized that I had a knack for something else. After a while, I realized that my love for creating stories in fashion was a passion for creative direction.

On making the move to Italy

I came to Italy in 2017. I was originally meant to come for just a year because I wanted to learn Italian. I was bored at home and wanted something new. It was between Milan and Paris, but in the end I chose Milan because I knew somebody here. I decided that I just wanted to stay, and the rest is history.

First row of Milan by Federico Lancellotti. Second and third rows courtesy of Jordan Anderson.

On creating a safe space for Black and queer creatives with MQBMBQ

I wanted to do something that spoke specifically to being Black and queer. It's a heavy focus on Italy, but I also try to make it as international as possible. In Milan, I feel like sometimes people are unaware of the intersectionality of being Black and queer, or just don't care. So I thought it was extremely important to talk about it, and to highlight the voices that actually exist here, because there's so many of them. People think in such a simple way: you're either Black or queer, and can’t be both. Milan is home, but it's not all peaches and cream: it is quite difficult for somebody who's Black, and for somebody who's Black and queer. So I really wanted to create a safe space for us.

On one of MQBMBQ’s memorable events

We did a special collaboration with Converse. We had a roundtable conversation with a few of the Black, queer people who grew up here. It’s something that I feel was very needed, because these people have lived here all their lives but they've never been acknowledged that way. It was really special.

On working with NSS Magazine

It's wild. I really enjoy working with them, because they're very attentive. They just know what to cover in terms of culture. I would love for them to continue what they're doing in terms of highlighting the different cultures, nuances and shades of identity that exist in Italy. It’s becoming a cultural hub, and it’s really nice to be a part of.

First row of Jordan and MQBMBQ event courtesy of Jordan Anderson. Second row of MQBMBQ event by Laurent Bentil. Third row courtesy of Jordan Anderson. Below image courtesy of Jordan Anderson.

On one thing you can’t travel without

My blow-dryer. It's just a random brand, but I really like it. I find that when I go to hotels or Airbnbs, they don't always have the blow-dryers with the combs on the end. I always travel with it because I always want to change something or there's a hair emergency.

On a window or aisle seat

Window. I'm kind of obsessed with the sky right now. I have like 500 pictures in my phone of the sky. I actually went skydiving for the first time. It was intense. They opened the door of the plane and I was like, ‘Wait. Do I have to do this?’ I was regretting my decision. And before I could think, he jumped. It was really fun. Looking back at the experience I'm glad I did it, but I would never do it again.

‘Sometimes Milan doesn't promote itself enough to tourists. Try to dig a little deeper, because the best things are hidden.’

On the best way to experience the city

If you're coming to Milan, either come during Fashion Week or Design Week because there are always fun parties open to everybody. If you're not coming during one of those weeks, you don't need to stay for more than four days. You can stay in Milan for a week, but plan a trip to Lake Como, Lake Lecco. There's a lot of things outside of Milan, but nearby within reach, that are also interesting. Also, while in Milan, it's important to not just do the super touristy things. Sometimes Milan doesn't promote itself enough to tourists. Tourists do the regular things like the Duomo and Fondazione Prada and it's great, but there are a lot of hidden gems. Try to dig a little deeper, because the best things are hidden.

On how the diversity of Milan inspires you

There's a lot of different people, different cultures, even though sometimes it feels a bit hidden. My friend group is a mixture of many different people from all walks of the world, and I find that very inspiring.

On the countless creative events in the city

Milan has a week every week. Mainly it's Design Week. People come from all over the world, and it’s really fun and interesting to meet all sorts of people. There's also Milano Art Week, Fashion Week, Music Week, Book Week. There's Wine Week, which is really nice — you can try new restaurants and there's always special discounts.

First row courtesy of Jordan Anderson. Second row of BIVIO Milano store courtesy of BIVIO Milano. Third row of Erba Brusca restaurant courtesy of Erba Brusca. Fourth row of Bar Basso courtesy of Bar Basso.

On finding a secondhand gem

For shopping: BIVIO Milano, which is my friend's store. It's a secondhand luxury store, so she sells all of the brands.

On where to eat if you don’t want Italian food

One of my favorite spots is Erba Brusca. It’s a restaurant a little outside of Milan, but it's worth the drive because it really is one of the best restaurants around. It's gourmet with a very interesting twist to it. There's a very good Japanese place called Osaka. It's in the middle of town but it's hidden. It's quality food and decent prices. Another restaurant that I really like is Hygge. They're a really small restaurant and I go there to work sometimes. It’s chill but the food is extraordinary, and it's very cute.

On trendy spots for day and night

Bar Basso is a very cute bar. That’s where everybody goes to drink, especially during Design Week. People are in the streets because it's so full. If I'm feeling really, extremely fancy, I'll go to Marchesi, the bar that's owned by Prada. I go there if I need to have coffee for work, or something like that.

‘On Google ‘quaint’ means attractively unusual or old-fashioned, and I would say Milan is both of those things.’

On a song that reminds you of Milan

It has nothing to do with Milan, but ‘Plastic’ by Moses Sumney. That was the song that I listened to the first night that I came to Milan. I associate that song with Milan, but also with my first time coming to Milan; my first time experiencing winter; my first time experiencing this culture shock of a life that I'd decided for myself.

On Milan in one word

Quaint. On Google ‘quaint’ means attractively unusual or old-fashioned, and I would say Milan is both of those things. There's a lot of Milanese people who were born and grown here, and there's a lot of tradition. But at the same time, there's also a lot of different things that are hidden, and things that you would never find in other cities in the same way. They're like flowers growing among the grass.


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