Nestled in the heart of Shoreditch’s buzzy Redchurch Street sits independent Modern Society. Drapers spoke to founder Nazifa Movsoumova to discover her society’s secrets.
Nazifa Movsoumova, 34, founded Modern Society in 2013 as a series of pop-up shops in west London. Backed by Movsoumova’s knowledge gained from a career in finance, the business has grown to become a cult hit. Now with a permanent store in east London’s Redchurch Street, a house label of quality basics and collaborations with brands including Zanzan and Être Cécile, the carefully curated store is going from strength to strength. Drapers spoke to Nazifa to discover some of Modern Society’s secrets.
How did Modern Society start?
I initially started running pop-up shops with Modern Society in 2013. Retail was a completely new industry for me, so the pop-ups were a good way of learning and building brand awareness. One Sunday morning, I had breakfast at Shoreditch House, and this building was under construction. I wasn’t looking for a permanent space then, but I remember thinking it would be amazing to have a space here. One thing led to another and exactly a year later we opened here, in October 2015.
What were you doing before you founded the business?
My background was in finance. I always wanted to have my own business, so finance was one of the most important things that I ever did, and it means I have a much better understanding of how the business needs to be run. I went to law school and worked in finance, so I understand the two cornerstones of business.
How do you find new brands for the store?
Instagram is probably one of my biggest sources of inspiration. I’ve found so many great designers on Instagram and for them it’s such a great outpost. I go to London and Paris fashion weeks and the trade shows – that’s where you see the emerging designers. In Paris I tend to go to Capsule and Premiere Classe – if I have time, I do Tranoï as well. I try to go to as many shows as I can, but besides being the buyer, I am my own accountant and I run the inventory as well, so I’m very busy. I try to go for one day and see it all in one, but it’s difficult because once you’ve been in a trade show for two hours, it’s difficult to distinguish between brands.
Why did you decide to have a cafe in the store?
Hospitality and retail are merging together, and we want to be what the future holds. People need to come in and feel that they have time. In today’s world, time is a luxury. The cafe gives us the space to do that.
Are there any shops you find really inspiring?
Paper Mache Tiger, which is a brand agency – their showroom was opened up as a shop and they have a cafe in there as well. Every time I’ve been there, I’ve met someone incredible, had a fantastic conversation or come away with a great idea. That’s exactly what these spaces should be.
How important is social media to the brand?
I think anyone who follows me or knows my personality would know straight away that it’s me who does the Modern Society’s Instagram. It is important because we’re a physical retailer and we don’t have an online platform yet, although it’s something we’re working on at the moment. Sometimes people will come to the store when they’re in London from the US, because they follow the store on Instagram.
What are your career highlights?
For me, still, the fact that people come in and buy stuff from the shop is quite incredible. It’s amazing to see people come in or travel specifically to come to the shop for a coffee or to buy something. I don’t think that feeling will ever cease to exist – it’s quite incredible. That’s the highlight, every day.
Favourite clothing brand
Modern Society and Re/Done
Favourite places to shop
LA. Silver Lake is great and Culver City is becoming really cool now too
Last fashion purchase
An old Levi’s jacket
Slovenia. It’s so scenic. It was breathtaking.
Last book you read?
Catching the Big Fish: Meditation, Consciousness and Creativity by David Lynch. I’m big on meditation
I worked at JP Morgan
I’d love to own a small cafe, and learn how to cook really soulful food