My biggest influence as far as style is concerned was undoubtedly my mother. She not only had impeccable style and taste, but taught me to appreciate art, dance, design, both fashion and interior design, and culture of all types. International culture. She also supported my love of all of the above. There was also another influence, my aunt Selina in New York. When I was a child, I would visit her during the summers on Long Island. She was a captivating woman. It didn’t even need to be any special occasion; or rather, every night was a special occasion, with the way she dressed and carried herself. I was inspired by them, and fashion has since become my life’s work.
In the 2000s, I moved to New York and worked as editor-at-large for a magazine called Suede. After the project ended, an old friend of mine Tu Ly informed me that the brand Ports 1961 had recently been acquired by a Chinese-Canadian company. I actually have a long relationship with Ports. My first contact with Ports started with my friendship with Miki Tanabe, one of the founder’s daughters, and continued with a lineage of dear friends, who would go on to design the collection. And my personal relationship with the brand started with my dear friends Fiona and Tia Cibani.
十多年前，我搬到了纽约，担任 Suede 杂志的自由编辑。项目结束后，我的一个老朋友 Tu Ly 告诉我，宝姿 Ports 1961 这个品牌最近已被一家中加合资公司收购。其实我和 Ports 有着很深的渊源。Ports 创始人的女儿 Miki Tanabe是我的好友，因此我开始接触这个品牌。我与许多挚友继续保持联系，他们将继续设计该系列。而我与 Ports 的私交则源于我的朋友 Fiona 和 Tia Cibani。
Tu told me that Ports was looking for a creative director for menswear to relocate to Xiamen. I had never been to Asia before, but my mother had always emphasized to me the importance of going abroad; after all, that was how she met my father. My mother was originally from Guyana, and my father Jamaica. They met while at school in England; I was born in Liverpool. They decided to relocate our family to Canada on a whim, and so I grew up in Toronto. When my mother heard I might be going to China, she gave her wholehearted support. “If you don’t go for me, go for you.” She said that China was the future, just as she believed Canada was the future back then.
Tu 告诉我，Ports 正在寻找一位男装创意总监，调到厦门工作。我以前从未去过亚洲，但我母亲一直强调出国非常重要。毕竟，她就是这样认识我父亲的。我母亲来自圭亚那，而我父亲来自牙买加，他们在英国上学时相遇。我出生在利物浦。他们临时决定举家迁往加拿大，因此我在多伦多长大。我母亲全力支持我去中国。“你就算不为我去，也要为自己去。”她说，未来属于中国，就像她当年认为未来属于加拿大一样。
So I jumped at the opportunity. I packed a suitcase full of white clothes and a Panama hat, ready for tropical weather. Xiamen was the Miami of China, or so I had heard. You can imagine my surprise, then, when I arrived in Xiamen on December 1, 2005, and I was greeted by a damp cold! Luckily, though, that was just an unusually cold winter. Xiamen is almost always warm and full of light, and it has an amazing energy.
所以我抓住了这个机会，行囊里装满白色衣服和巴拿马帽，准备迎接热带天气。我听说厦门是中国的迈阿密。2005 年 12 月 1 日到达厦门时，迎接我的竟是潮湿的寒风！你能想象我有多惊讶吗？不过幸运的是，那年冬天是个例外，冷得有些异常。厦门总是温暖如春，阳光明媚，蕴藏一种惊人的能量。
I quickly fell in love with the city. I had just come from New York, the city that never sleeps, where there are neon advertisements as far as the eye can see, car horns constantly blaring, crowds crisscrossing. Xiamen was different. I didn’t understand the language, which made it feel almost as if I was walking in virtual silence. And the vibe of the city is leisurely and calm; you work hard but you rest well.
Another thing that amazes me about China is the speed of development. When I first arrived in Xiamen, Binbei was 60% or 70% bicycles, with very few cars, and there were no lines on the road. Driving there was what I can only describe as a joyful madness. Jimei district was just a suburb, with almost nothing there. But the pace of growth in China is staggering. Once, I left briefly to go to Europe for three weeks. When I came back, I called a cab, and I soon noticed that the cab driver was going the wrong way. Except, he wasn’t going the wrong way; in the space of three weeks, a totally new bridge had been constructed, with over 1000 workers working day and night.
中国的发展速度同样令我震惊。我刚到厦门时，滨北的马路上 60-70% 是自行车，汽车很少，也没有地铁线路。在那里开车，疯狂而兴奋。集美区只是一个郊区，那里几乎什么都没有。但中国的发展速度十分惊人。有一次，我离开中国，去欧洲只呆了三个星期。回来时，坐在出租车上，感觉司机走错了路。不过，我发现他并没有走错路，短短三个星期，1000 多名工人没日没夜地工作，一座全新的大桥很快落成。
As much as I loved Xiamen, I hadn’t initially planned on staying permanently. I thought I would come and experience China for a year or two, and then go back to New York or Europe. The company and I had the shared ambition to bring the menswear brand back to the West. The womenswear brand had successfully launched in New York years earlier. So in 2009, we opened a showroom in Milan, and I split my time between Milan and Xiamen. We started showing on the Milan runways. Serendipitously, that year, I met Min, the woman who would become my wife. Min is a designer who trained in London and was living in Amsterdam at the time. She had come back to China only temporarily because of an illness in the family, but then she decided she might stay for a year. That was when we met, and it was a very fast romance. We got married the next year.
尽管我很喜欢厦门，但起初并没有打算在这里长期居住，只想在中国呆一两年，然后回到纽约或欧洲。公司和我本人有一个共同的愿景，就是把男装品牌带回西方。女装品牌几年前已在纽约成功上市。2009 年，我们在米兰开设了一个时装展厅，我在米兰和厦门之间辗转，我们的时装走上米兰的 T 台。那一年，我遇到了后来的妻子 Min，我们的相遇是一场偶然。她是一名设计师，在伦敦做培训，当时住在阿姆斯特丹。因为家人生病，她回到中国，后来决定可能会呆上一年。就在那时，我们相遇了，浪漫来得非常快。认识第二年我们就结婚了。
In true West Indian fashion, I invited all of my friends and family to the wedding. I didn’t think they would all come, though, so we didn’t plan on having a big wedding. But to my surprise, all 150 of my invitees RSVPed yes! They were coming from all over the world, from England, Canada, Jamaica, to celebrate with us. Fiona and Alfred, the owners of Ports, very generously offered to host the wedding at their villa on Gulangyu, where we had a beautiful and emotional wedding.
我们举行了一场西印度式的婚礼，邀请了所有亲朋好友参加，但我认为他们不会都来，所以婚礼并没有打算办得很大。但出乎意料的是，150 位亲朋好友都接受邀请。他们从世界各地，包括英国、加拿大、牙买加，远道而来祝福我们。宝姿 Ports 的所有者 Fiona 和 Alfred，非常慷慨地献出他们位于鼓浪屿的别墅，我们在那里举行了一场美丽而感人的婚礼。
What made China even more special was being able to share it with my family. In the early years, my mother and father used to come to China regularly to visit me. And my son Bailey from my first marriage also came to China many times. When he was 12 and living in Vancouver, his school was on strike, and after going through three supply teachers within two months, I was fed up with the situation. I decided, literally overnight, to bring him to China. That was his first time in Xiamen; he went to Xiamen International School for a year, and went back and forth between Xiamen and Canada for the next few years. He spent holidays and Christmases in China, too. He grew to love Chinese culture and the Chinese language, so much so that after he graduated high school, he came back for his gap year to learn the language.
我家人与中国也产生了千丝万缕的联系，这让中国在我心中有了更加特殊的意义。早些年，我父母经常来中国看我。而我与前妻的儿子 Bailey 也多次来到中国。他 12 岁时，住在温哥华，学校正在罢工，两个月内换了三个代课老师，我受够了。几乎是一夜之间，我就决定把他带到中国来。那是他第一次来厦门，他在厦门国际学校学习了一年，接下来的几年里在厦门和加拿大之间来回奔波。他也在中国度过假期和圣诞节。他越来越喜欢中国文化和中文，所以高中毕业后，来中国学习一年中文，才去上大学。
Splitting my time between China and Milan became challenging, because Min and I were newly married, and I had to spend half my time in Milan. In 2013, I started making plans for how we could be together more full time. Min had founded a brand in 2010 called Ms MIN, which was growing, and needed my expertise. So in 2014, I decided to leave what I was doing and work with my wife full time. I came to China to work and stayed for Love. Now, I am permanently in Xiamen.
如何分配在中国和米兰的时间，对我而言是一大难题。因为我和 Min 是新婚，所以我一半的时间都得呆在米兰。为了能相处更久，2013 年我开始为今后做打算。Min 在 2010 年创立了一个叫 Ms MIN 的品牌，这个品牌正处于成长期，需要我的专业知识保驾护航。所以 2014 年，我决定放下正在做的事情，全新全意与妻子一起工作。我为了工作来到中国，却为爱留了下来。现在，我永久居留在厦门。
Of course, there are still things I miss. When my father was here, he taught our cook how to make curry the way our family makes it. It’s funny, though. I may have grown up in Toronto, but I feel like my roots have shifted. I actually feel more comfortable now in Xiamen than I do in Toronto, and I’ve started a family and a life here. I am home here in Xiamen.
I love travel and culture. It is my life, my destiny. China is a magnificent nation. I only hope to share more of its beauty, incredible history, and culture with the world.