Founded by two best friends in 2008, Aje is perhaps best known for its colourful dresses, bold silhouettes and effortlessly elegant pieces that will fit in perfectly into your reemergence wardrobe. Think elevated casuals to be donned while taking al fresco sips at a trendy restaurant, or statement pieces in jewel tones to wear to your next soireé.
Inspired by the Sunshine Coast lifestyles, Aje was born out of the need for a versatility that bridged the gap between coastal and urban style. According to creative director Edwina Forrest, artisanal sensibilities sit at the heart of the design process and form the soul of each collection
While the label defines what contemporary Australian statement style means, fashion editors, influencers and stylists alike from all over the world have been charmed by the label’s take on tough femininity and raw beauty. From Madonna and Katy Perry, to Olivia Culpo and Gigi Hadid, consider everyone a fan.
Adrian Norris and Edwina Forrest, Co Founders
We sat down with co-founders Adrian Norris and Edwina Forrest to talk about the origins of Aje, mixing relationships with business, and their love for artisanal sensibilities.
What does ‘Aje’ mean?
Edwina: Aje is an acronym for ‘Adrian joins Edwina’ and is pronounced ‘age’. Empowering women through beautiful and compelling design is at the heart of what we do. The ethos of tough femininity and effortless cool has remained consistent throughout our brands' evolution, being as relevant today as it was thirteen years ago when we first launched.
When did the two of you first meet and how did you decide to work with each other?
Adrian: We first met in 2005, and instantly connected creatively and became lifelong friends. We sensed the need for a brand with a versatility that bridged this divide between coastal and urban style, something that wasn’t readily available or even affordable at the time – so we created it.
Is designing clothes and running a label something you always envisioned doing?
Adrian: I had opened a shop called Strada in Noosa in 2005, which sold clothing by Australian designers. The clothes I was buying for Strada weren’t suitable for Noosa and others weren’t appropriate for when customers returned from their holiday to Sydney or Melbourne. That’s why we started Aje.
Edwina: From a young age I have always gravitated towards the creative, and fashion is something that evolved quite organically for me. It was intensified further during my early work as a fashion stylist and my tenure in magazines. When I met Adrian he further ignited the creative spirit in me and we forged a beautiful organic creative friendship and partnership.
What’s it like working with your best friend? How do you settle things when you don’t see eye- to-eye?
Edwina: Very early on we promised each other to be as honest and forthcoming as possible. Trying to find that balance is definitely where most creative tension comes from – however it’s also our strength and something we’ve finessed over the years.
Adrian: We’ve always come in with strong perspectives in the respective areas we lead, but also listen to each other’s contrasting viewpoints business wide. We do like to challenge each other, and this works for us.
What are your respective roles at the company?
Adrian: Like with any business partnership, Edwina and I have had to wear many different hats throughout the past thirteen years, we’ve taken a hands-on approach across every single area or department. As Aje has evolved and our team has expanded, Edwina and I specialise in our roles – myself as CEO focusing on commercial, retail and finance and Edwina as Creative Director, leading on design, visual and communication elements.
What are some artisanal techniques that are core to Aje?
Edwina: Traditional techniques and craftsmanship underpin Aje’s quality of design, with hand-painted prints, natural fabrications and raw edged finishes forming the soul of each seasonal collection. The design process starts with intricate sketching, before the Aje Design Studio handcrafts ornate toiles for review and then the final pieces are created with the utmost love and care. Prints are hand painted with an array of techniques including watercolour and acrylic on canvas before being translated into digital form, as are the embellished pieces, with each sequin sewn carefully by hand.
It’s been 13 years. What is one thing that hasn’t changed since you founded the label?
Adrian: The one thing that hasn’t changed is our focus on our customer. The Aje customer is at the heart of our brand, and shapes everything that we do. We will continue to listen to her, design for her, offer her a platform to express herself and meet her wherever she is around the world.
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