Natsu Fest: The Last Dance – What’s next for Manchester’s community clothing brand?
Natsu Fest is back again, for its third and final rendition. We speak to Natsu Clothing’s founder, Dhara Nat Sufraz Patel, a Politics and Chinese student in his final year of university, to find out what the next event will entail, and what the future holds for Natsu.
The upcoming event is affectionately named Natsu Fest: The Last Dance. Dhara, the founder of the Natsu brand, references the documentary series The Last Dance in the title. “The name makes sense,” he explains. “This event will be the last Natsu Fest ever. And it also marks the end of my, and most of my mates’, time at uni. It’s both a celebration of what Natsu has achieved over the years and a chance to spend time together.”
The event welcomes all students. Dhara is hoping for a turn-out of 200 attendees. Provisionally, the event is set to take place in mid-June. An official date will be announced soon.
Natsu Fest: The Last Dance will be a mix of 90s rap and hip-hop, soul, and RnB. Mixle will make a debut headline performance, alongside performances from Half Price Dream, Sam Seccombe, and DJ Sketch. Natsu has always prided itself in supporting student and Manchester-based artists, giving artists and DJs opportunities to perform for a new audience.
The first Natsu Fest in 2021 recruited artists using the Manchester Student Group Facebook group. The line-up included Artists Begum, Sheafz, and DJ Muffin. The 2022 event worked on the same premise: at Manchester Academy 3, with over 150 tickets sold, there were performances from artists such as Sasha Little, Mixle, Saint Nusu, and Messy Bao. Dhara told me that he “never intended to put on a second Natsu Fest,” but after a conversation with friend Robbie Beale, he saw “how doable another Natsu Fest would be if the Student Union were to assist.”
With Natsu’s four-year anniversary coming up in June, he also has a few collaborations planned to celebrate. The first is with the creative collective, No Face, and the second is with DJ collective Anthro. He looks to help them both with merchandise releases and recommends anyone reading to check them out.
After he leaves university, Dhara hopes Natsu’s popularity will continue and that Natsu clothing will continue to grow. He explains that Natsu clothing “has already been worn in over 32 countries across the world, including South Korea, Brazil, and Uganda.” Among Natsu’s other achievements, this is something Dhara is incredibly proud of.
Similarly, Natsu clothing is a community brand. Dhara explains that it’s “important for anyone with a platform, no matter how big or small, to help give back to local charities.” Natsu Clothing’s ethos of being a sustainable, inclusive, and community-based brand follows the same logic. The brand makes regular donations to charities supporting student-related issues, such as young people’s mental health and emotional well-being, homelessness affecting young people, inequality of black minorities, women, and the cost of living crisis. Natsu’s support for the local community is something Dhara is eager to keep going.
On a personal level, Natsu has created memorable experiences for Dhara and his friends. Most notably, he tells me that when visiting a Wagamama before lockdown, he saw ‘they already sold a Natsu beer, a passionfruit pale ale. (It was unrelated to Natsu Clothing).’ He ‘wanted to try and get some ale’ for himself. He sent Wagamama a message on Facebook explaining that he wanted to buy ale, but couldn’t see where they were sold. They replied, seeming enthusiastic, and sent Dhara and his housemates a crate of their Natsu Wagamama beer. “It was a complete surprise. But it made our lockdown much more interesting.” Dhara will always remember Natsu Fest and his work on the brand fondly.
In the far future, Dhara considers that he “would like to pursue Natsu full-time,” He hopes one day Natsu Fest “will be the size of Warehouse Project“ and for that “Natsu Clothing will still be a recognisable brand amongst students for years to come.” He adds that he “wants to see it become a lifestyle brand in all forms of media, including television, print, music, and more.”
Thinking about how Natsu has changed his university experience for the better, Dhara adds some advice for other students wanting to pursue their own business – “As my Grandad once said, aim for the sky, not the ceiling. I think a lot of students are sitting on some great ideas. No matter how crazy you think your idea sounds, just do it. What are you waiting for?”
If you want to check out Natsu, you can find tickets to Natsu Fest: The Last Dance on their website, as well as their Instagram, @natsuclothinguk, for updates.
Read more about Natsu here: