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.
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.
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.
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.
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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