An interview with John Muleba

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What drew you to working at XXY Magazine?

I studied Fine Art before I became enamored with fashion. In the beginning, I got into fashion because the girls on the courses were always pretty. I had no knowledge at all about the inner workings of the fashion world; I thought Givenchy was a patisserie. I interned for a while at a few PR agencies and worked London Fashion Week for a few seasons before I met our Creative Director, Ibrahim. We had many long discussions about everything that was wrong with the London fashion scene and we both knew quite a few people within the industry who were similar to our age at the time and who were trying to make it within the creative sphere. The recurring problem that kept rearing it’s head when we talked to a lot of them was that they didn’t particularly have a platform upon which they could showcase their work or be granted the opportunity to collaborate with other creatively minded individuals to produce good work to a professional standard. A substantial amount of talent was slipping through the net. So, we had several long talks about what we wanted to achieve, what we felt was absent from fashion and our aesthetic. Many sleepless nights, caffeine and nicotine fuelled creative sessions later, XXY was born.

What, in your opinion, is XXY’s greatest success?

I think just getting it off the ground has been our greatest success, so far, because coming in as a new fashion magazine you are immediately the equivalent of a plankton in an ocean full of sharks, whales and octopuses. It’s really quite difficult, but as long as you know what your voice is and stay true to it.

What kinds of themes and ideals accompany XXY magazine? What is unique to your magazine?

We try not to be gender specific in the topics we cover and our general aesthetic. Collaboration is certainly a cornerstone of XXY and we work almost solely with emerging talent right across the board, from fashion, music, art, design and everything in between. We also want to see if we can bridge the gap between emerging and established talent. Personally, what I have noticed is that, yes, established talent is fantastic and we all aspire to be on the same echelon as them, but we would also like to shine a spotlight on the new generation coming through; the innovators who are on the cusp of greatness because they will be the next generation pushing the boundaries of what we have today.

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Why do you think gender discussion is important today and what is the role of magazines such as XXY in promoting this?

Gender discussion is important because there is still an apparent inequality amongst the sexes. It is the 21st century; we have electric cars, you can pause and rewind live television, everything is wireless, but the wage gap between women and men is still sizeable. Gender stereotypes still exist in the work place and we have a glass ceiling in terms of women in executive positions. We have come along a great deal, but that inequality still exists. Recently, we tackled this issue in a brilliant discussion piece called, “Fashion and Feminism,” and in the future we are looking to expand into video discussion panels with revered members of the fashion industry to really cut to the core of burning issues.

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How has the focus on gender in fashion changed in recent years and what is the role of XXY in this?

The subject of gender and fashion was always very black and white. In my opinion, an inherent interest in fashion amongst males – in fact, straight males – was almost a taboo. It was often dismissed as a feminine pursuit and menswear was stagnant and boring. We’ve now seen a rise in the metrosexual, men are more comfortable having a discussion and a truly informed opinion on trends and designers. The female form has often been dictated to, and objectified, by men; most of the head designers at the big fashion houses are male, but then you have this idea of power dressing for women and if they want to be taken seriously or if they want to feel sexy, they feel have to dress a certain way. Fashion and gender throws up so many questions and we try and promote an androgynous discussion, whether it is written or visual.

What do you think is amiss in the fashion world? And what would you like to see change?

At the end of the day, fashion is simply intelligent frivolity. We aren’t saving lives or curing cancer, but fashion is a true representation of the times. I think that there should be more initiatives provided to those with genuine talent to showcase their work.  Fashion is a business at the end of the day and it would be fantastic if young designers were educated about the fiscal side of things and possessed acute business acumen. It is better now than it was a few years ago, but most designers don’t have a clue and they end up getting ripped off and left penniless.

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What is XXY’s approach to competition amongst fashion magazines?

Our approach is completely unconventional because we feel we’re directly in touch with our target audience, we know exactly what they want and we try and deliver it in a way that they can relate to. We try and cut out all the unnecessary frivolity that stereotypically comes with fashion and aim to try and produce informed, intelligent content. I work with a fantastic team and we are all eclectic, but we’re all singing from the same hymn sheet and we’re all about good ideas and making something credible.

What is the most important message you would want readers to take away from XXY Magazine?

The most important thing I would like people to take away from XXY is knowledge. It sounds incredibly cheesy and profound, but I hope we educate people with the content we produce. In an ideal world, I would hope that the content we produce evolves into a conversation and a discussion.

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