Designer Mehrunisa Zafar developed her brand M/7 during her BA (Hons) Fashion Design and Development final-year but wanted to master the business side of running a brand before launching it officially. She enroled onto MA Entrepreneurship and Innovation fresh from her undergraduate and hasn’t looked back since. We discuss her pop-up on the horizon, targeting a Middle Eastern consumer and bringing personality into designs.

From Design to Entrepreneurship and Innovation with M/7 founder Mehrunisa Zafar.

From Design to Entrepreneurship and Innovation with M/7 founder Mehrunisa Zafar.

Hi Mehrunisa, can you tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do?

I am originally from Pakistan and have now been at LCF for almost 5 years. It’s been a rollercoaster ride for me from foundation to BA (Hons) Fashion Design and Development and now MA Entrepreneurship and Innovation. I began with a mindset to become a womenswear designer but my time at LCF has shaped my thought process into materialising my dreams and bringing my personality out through my ‘illustrative style’. I still remember during my BA, my course leader James Hamilton Butler told me, “Listen to your calling card in your sketchbook, your illustrations are sick”. That was a turning point for me as I just used to draw my muse in thought-provoking and expressive emotions all the time and I never realised it was going to turn into my passion and motivation.

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What is M/7 and where did the idea come from?

M/7 is the brainchild of my BA (Hons) Fashion Design and Development final project. I amalgamated athletic luxury into “athluxe” for my concept and that became a reality. In all transparency, I wanted to create a brand, which communicates with my consumers without me having to tell them, I wanted them to connect my personality with the brand, that’s why M/7 was born. I believe in the power of numbers and the strength of my lucky horoscope number 7, it is a prominent part of my personality and thus, I combined my initial M and 7 for execution.

What are the brand aesthetic and goals for the future?

M/7 is a luxury sportswear brand, which hones a love for quality and perfection in every stitch. Personalisation through my illustrations is what sets a tone for the brand combined with fabric sourced exclusively from Paris. I never used to miss an opportunity to visit Premier Vision Paris during my bachelor, which really broadened my spectrum of fabric knowledge and the networks. I connected with a lot of suppliers there and have now put them into good use.

I’m aiming to secure a stockists at Selfridges and Harvey Nichols contemporary section as the aesthetic meshes with the competing brands. Apart from stocking permanently, M/7 will be having exclusive pop-ups in Dubai, Paris and London from time to time to capture a wider consumer demographic and target Middle Eastern consumers predominantly. In the future, I would also want to engage female artisans from Pakistan who are oppressed and are in need of empowerment. I want my illustrations to be hand embroidered for a percentage of sales given to these undiscovered females from rural areas of Pakistan.

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What made you want to study MA Entrepreneurship and Innovation after BA Fashion Design and Development?

After finishing with a distinction from BA (Hons) Fashion Design and Development, I became well versed in the design aspect but I felt the need to gain insights into the financial side of business and marketing through an MA, which drove my entrepreneurial enzymes. I became uneasy with myself as my brand was getting the attenion but finding ways to promote the luxury side of M/7 in innovative ways was something that I wanted to master.

You have a few pop-ups coming up. What are the details we need to know?

M/7 is a carefully considered brand and I want my first pop-up to emerge as the brand’s “flagship pop-up”, therefore keeping in mind my consumer demographic I have chosen Drunch in late April, followed by another pop-up in a luxury student accommodation called Chapte Living for the Pop-Up in May, plus a pop-up in the summer which is going to be in Dubai since the Middle Eastern consumer bracket is one of the core consumer categories for M/7.

Designer Mehrunisa Zafar developed her brand M/7 during her BA (Hons) Fashion Design and Development final-year.

Designer Mehrunisa Zafar developed her brand M/7 during her BA (Hons) Fashion Design and Development final-year.

What have you learnt since combining fashion business with design as a progression student?

I am really enjoying my MA course because every day I am unravelling new business concepts and combining them with my design aesthetic, it’s like creating a formula for M/7 brand launch from baby steps to big scale. I have fallen in love with the process and I can’t wait to see the outcome of my Masters graduation. One thing I want to point out is that as an MA student I have grown into someone who networks and connects on a wider scale as compared to my design years when I used to be in a shell working in my zone all the time, I am juggling two fields and it feels great.

How are you finding it is the design, business mind and social media of a brand at once?

In all honesty, it is quite hard maintaining a balance, however, my MA course blends concepts, which I apply to M/7 side-by-side, I tend to collaborate with like-minded creatives from UAL who help and promote M/7 as a start-up and are now becoming an M/7 family. Also, I was prepared and trained during my undergraduate to take these challenges up, my internship with a London Fashion Week designer, Eudon Choi gave me a taster of how to manage a fashion business all at once.

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