Vintage yet modern, a tribute to the past and a platform for the future – that is the aesthetic Mula Zine embraces. This online magazine is not just your average e-zine but it covers more than just fashion and trends, at the core of it lies a “cultural movement dedicated in championing the voice of youths regardless of gender, sexuality, race or religion”, thus promoting inclusivity among the younger generation in South East Asia.
How It All Began
Founder and Editor-In-Chief, Alia Soraya, currently pursuing Fashion Photography in London, came up with the idea for Mula Zine mainly because there was just nothing like it in Malaysia. With never-seen-before content and themes, Mula Zine tackles the norm in a different perspective-one where trends are not followed but created. It is not confined to retro fashion and arts but also features diverse and honest opinions that range from personal stories to public concerns, which are not commonly featured in commercial magazines.
“Frankly what I wanted to read didn’t really exist here in Malaysia. I’ve always had to refer to sources abroad than at home. Until, one day, I spent the whole day at the national library and went through the archival of Wanita Magazine from the 70s all the way to the 90s and I was shocked. Shocked because by no means publishing meant scaling down articles. It was pure. I wanted it to exist more and more. Slowly, I hope Mula will be that outlet. The inspiration is to challenge the perception and mentality of Malaysians,” Alia tells us.
Alia eventually started working on her idea in the comfort of her living room coupled with regular discussions with her friends. Alas, Mula Zine was born.
“Mula is an ode. Over and over again, we have been finding the word to plug the switch. Often times when I go on Instagram, I look at Instagram accounts abroad, they’d always have a few accounts that would post throwback videos, photos and more. It is acting as a source for people to actually refer to and bond. It is a community. I wanted that for Mula”, says Alia.
With its broad range of content, Mula Zine grew to provide a safe space for better representation of youths and their voices to be heard (or read in this case!).
Redefining Societal Norms
Scrolling through Mula Zine triggers a profound nostalgia embedded in all of us. It takes us back to our shared roots as Malaysians and gives us a chance to be part of the history that binds us as a diverse nation and the opportunity to redefine social and cultural norms.
Some of the eye-opening content from Mula Zine includes its first editorial titled ‘Oi Botak’. The story and the idea for the content were based on Alia’s life story, where she had to go bald due to health reasons.
Alia noted the struggles of the younger generation when it comes to dealing with their appearances, especially when they lose their crowning glory and how conventional beauty standards of females has far-reaching effects on their self-esteem and mental health. “The objective for this shoot is to commemorate little you and future you and the girls and women who want to go bald but never had the courage to do so or has to go bald because of their circumstances. You are not your hair. This is a poignant reminder that women, despite their looks, are not representatives of the typecasts so often thrust upon them. I personally want to look at women without hair to appear more often in all spectrum of womanhood. Sometimes, you go to the salon and you just hate your hair, and that’s okay.”
When asked what type of audience Mula Zine specifically caters to, Alia noted that it would like to garner the likes of the late great P Ramlee, Yasmin Ahmad and Loke Wan Tho – all who serve as inspiration to the style of Mula Zine.
“The greatest achievement for Mula would be the times where someone sends us a personal message through Instagram saying that they’re reminiscing with us,” Alia points out.
“An achievement to me personally wouldn’t be a physical prize or money. It would be when my message is delivered. Clear and intentional. So far, Mula’s achieved that little by little. We’re all part of the process, the process of learning.”
More Than Just A Magazine
Mula Zine has gained a steady response from readers with its one-of-a-kind content but this is only the beginning. Despite juggling the tasks of being a student and running Mula Zine full-time, Alia is aiming for greater progress.“I’m still based in London, balancing both ends as a student and developing Mula Zine. With time, I intend to cement style signatures that Mula has, which is vintage, retro and home-bound.”
“Although most of our articles as well as contributors aren’t even entirely based/from Malaysia, I don’t mind that. Our Singapore team progress just the same as our Malaysian team and I try to include everyone for everything.”
Essentially, Alia intends to prove that “if you want something accessible to you in your country but no one’s making it yet, do it or better yet; work on that goal.”
As a collaborative effort, Alia has set her sights on making Mula Zine more than just a magazine. In the cards are plans for the magazine to provide practical tips and guidance for the younger generation to thrive in the industry in these challenging times.
* Featured image of Mula’s First Editorial: Oi Botak sourced from Alia Soraya