Natasha Wyer was thrilled with the location she chose as the backdrop for her latest collection.
“Everywhere we went in Rovinj was perfect – so picturesque,” enthuses the Sydney designer behind women’s resort wear label Harla.
The Croatian city’s fishing port and old world charm worked a treat for the Spring/Summer 2018 offerings Natasha will present at Fashion Exposed NOW in February.
But why travel so far for a fashion shoot?
Partly to promote Harla’s wide appeal, though Europe’s seaside delights are nothing new to the designer who confesses her top favourites are Capri and Saint-Tropez.
Behind the resort wear that first emerged in Sydney in 2010 as Tasha Collections, it rapidly won a strong following and is poised for major expansion under its new label, Harla – a remarkable adventure story.
“I was 23 when I went overseas with a girlfriend, for my “European Tour ” says Natasha. “Initially I only meant to travel for a couple of years but 12 years later found myself based in Italy working in the yachting industry.”
“I started out as a stewardess, sailing across the Mediterranean and Atlantic for various charter yachts. Eventually, my last job in the yachting industry was with an Israeli family whom I worked with for 7 years. They treated me like family. Starting out as their chief stewardess and purser which turned into equipping and styling the interiors of their super yacht collection. This was a defining moment in my career.”
Like many expats, returning home in 2010 wasn’t without it’s challenges. “Having spent the last 10 years in an industry that doesn’t exist on the same level here in Australia, it was always going to be a challenge. I really didn’t want to lose or waste the incredible knowledge and experience I’d gained, which ultimately led itself into a concierge and luxury gift business”.
With both businesses falling into a niche market, Natasha decided to turn things around and utilize her time spent in the resort capitals of the world to create her own range of resort wear.
The idea grew as women regularly stopped Natasha in the street to ask where she’d bought her fetching dresses and separates, further confirmation of her talents came when she started selling her ranges at Sydney’s markets including the popular Bondi Markets.
“From the start, I concentrated on timeless designs that were flattering, affordable, versatile, and selling face-to-face in the markets was great for customer feedback,” says Natasha.
“For the first six years, I turned down retailers who wanted to carry my product. As a one woman show I felt I just wasn’t ready and wanted to focus on creating my own fabrics first to give that point of difference. This was ultimately the best decision as it’s the fabric prints and their colours that are what first draws attention to my customers.”
Steady growth has changed all that. The recently launched Harla website not only welcomes stockists, but features an online store.
It offers numerous temptations, many of them suitable for day-to-evening, but just one swimsuit style which doubles as a bodysuit – albeit in a range of delectable colours – and a small offering of leather bags and belts.
“That’s deliberate,” says Natasha Wyer. “There are plenty of swimwear and accessories specialists, so I concentrate on the clothes and for that matter, Spring/Summer.”
She has no plans to design a winter collection, though a luxury Harla range is in her sights.
Don’t miss Harla exhibiting at Fashion Exposed Now from Saturday 10 – Sunday 11 February 2018 at the Royal Hall of Industries in Sydney where they will be showcasing their latest collections. Registration is free for trade visitors.