Tasha RUI

Can fashion enhance cultural awareness? Natasha Lewis Honeyman thinks so.

With a Portuguese and Maori heritage and a nine-to-five job as a cultural worker, Natasha Lewis Honeyman is passionate about raising the bar of cultural awareness in Australia. For more than ten years she has also been a practicing artist and now with the launch of Tasha Rui, her journey of creative expression continues.

“My aim is to be a walking art gallery for the Asia-Pacific region,” Natasha explains of her goal for the new label. “Most of my work is motivated by art, nature and cultural heritage.”

Natasha’s own drawings and paintings are used as the prints for her collections, which feature clothing as well as accessories and homewares. “It’s interpreting the art on another level into textile design,” she says of her philosophy. “I see my brand placed a bit more broadly than just Australia.”

By moving into fashion, Natasha wants to not only make her art more accessible, but also to create new opportunities to engage with artisans across the Asia-Pacific and give back to artists as well as marginalised Australian communities.

Her first collection, which is called The Sunshine Collection, was inspired by the Queensland lifestyle. It features bright colours, florals and vibrant prints in a range of practical designs. Where Natasha is bold and playful with her prints, she pares her designs back to classic styles that “actually fit most women”. The launch of the label will happen in two stages, with a capsule collection in November followed by the release of the full collection in early 2017.

Getting to this point is the culmination of a fifteen-year journey. Natasha has experimented with textiles as part of her art practice for the better part of the last decade, but until she took part in the CEA Fashion Accelerator program, she wasn’t clear on how to turn her interest in textiles into a viable business.

“I wouldn’t have a label if I hadn’t gone into the program – it has gone from concept through to reality in that period,” she explains. “Having access to the business mentors and the teachers in the workshops has given me a practical understanding of how things function and work within the fashion industry.”

By learning about the fashion industry as a whole, Natasha is now confident of her place in it. “The program has helped me refine my sense of where I sit in the market through the competitor analysis and marketing sessions we did,” she says. “It has also helped to refine and direct my own research efforts – they are now more purposeful and targeted.”

By understanding her customers and her market niche inside out, Natasha now has the confidence she needs to turn Tasha Rui into a fully fledged label. Now that she has graduated from the Fashion Accelerator, she is focused on production and her big-picture business goals.

“I really just want it to be a good representative label for the Asia Pacific region,” she explains of Tasha Rui. “I see a lot of potential for upscaling and I would love to emulate the success of labels like Gorman that have really taken art to the wider public.”

Her future collections will continue to draw on cultural references from across the Asia-Pacific, as well as her own New Zealand heritage.