Adrian and Edwina of Aje: 15 years of fashion and friendship

Few brands have such an inimitable aesthetic as Australian label Aje. Even fewer are able to iterate season upon season’s worth of collections in a way that seamlessly transcends the mood of the moment.

Celebrating the 15th year of its label, Aje marked the milestone with ‘Element,’ an Afterpay Australian Fashion Week collection that was infinitely memorable even among such a strong showing of leading labels and designers.

Here, we saw the design codes that make Aje Aje emerge through a modern lens: where whimsical femininity toyed with raw coastal elements in silhouettes that were both sleek, and in true Aje fashion, sculptural.

Not only that, ‘Element’ made a firm nod back to Aje’s coastal roots through the proud introduction of swimwear for the first time.

Intrigued by these creations and impressed by this seamless nudge of their brand DNA into new territories, we caught up with Aje’s Edwina Forest, Co-Founder and Creative Director and Adrian Norris, Co-Founder and CEO.

Here, we talked about the beauty of reinventing a signature style, how Aje’s look landed some 15 years ago, and how the founders’ friendship has powered them through this chapter.

Aje 15 years

The opening look and Aje’s first-ever swimwear inclusion

How does your Resort 24 Collection make you feel?

“I’m so happy with it. It’s kind of back to our roots. It’s what we do really well,” muses Adrian.

“I love the opening look. I love all of them. thought that they really represented what we do and are doing really well. There was no look down the runway that I didn’t love.”

Can you tell us what it’s like working together as best friends?

Edwina: “It still feels like best friends, and you said it the other day, Adrian — like family in a way, because you’ve just ridden so many waves. I think in terms of friendships, there’s not many people who just are with you through all of it constantly.”

Adrian: “It’s been 15 years, so we’re doing it well. We see each other every day of our lives!

“It’s been a wild ride but a beautiful ride,” Edwina smiles. “And it feels really nice at this point actually, almost like we’re just beginning in a way — in a strange way — a new chapter.”

Aje 15 years

When it came to first crafting the look and feel of Aje, what were your considerations and inspirations?

“The real origins were coastal,” shares Edwina.

Adrian: “Edi and I were Living up on the coast in Queensland. We kind of saw this gap and we thought ‘that there’s clothes that are beautiful enough to wear in the city that can also be effortless enough to wear in these coastal towns.’ That’s really where we originally came from. It’s still in our collection — our opening look was kind of the whole entire essence of that symbol, [especially] the beautiful skirt.”

“You can kind of imagine it barefoot on a beach just as you can imagine walking in an art gallery,” Edwina reflects. I think that we were kind of registering what Australian style kind of needed to be, but just wasn’t at the time.”

We noted some very subtle some seeping in of Y2K details: singlets, spaghetti strapped dresses and different silhouettes to the volume recently seen in Aje’s collection. Can you tell me about that direction?

Adrian: “I think it’s about kind of looking at what we’ve done well in the past. I think we fashion you’ve always got to think forward and be current. And for us, that was just about minimising a few things but still being really over the top with things at the other end: our fabrics, our colours, our cuts, and our details.”

Aje 15 years

How do you see occasion wear going in the next year or two?

Edwina: “It always needs to transport people. So I think it always needs to feel really interesting and special. Obviously, a lot of the silhouettes are streamlining a lot. We’re obviously going into a time where things feel more minimal. And I think, you know, people kind of frown on that dopamine, ostentatious way of dressing. So I think there has to be a stripped back simplicity, which is always part of what we do anyway. I guess the volume and the drama of the times that have just been in maximalism has definitely gone — it’s feeling more pared back.”

Adrian: “I think people still want to feel beautiful. No matter what’s gonna happen in the world, people are always gonna wear a new dress to a great occasion and feel like a million dollars. That’s what we do.”

The feeling of beauty most certainly came through as the models cascaded through the space. Poised and graceful, they moved with ease — as if each garment was not just designed specifically for them, but rather stitched and styled to their exact precisions. Starried eyes and murmurs after the show gave Aje’s casting what might have been the people’s choice award of AAFW casting.

We asked the duo about the people in the show, revealing each had a special place in Aje’s 15-year history.

Aje 15 years

What is your ethos to casting, especially with your Resort 24 show?

Edwina: We wanted it to be as authentic as possible in a way. Like anybody that was kind of part of the parade has touched the brand in some way over the past 15 years. And I think we’ve always been very much about just celebrating beauty and how we see it, and in all shapes, sizes, ethnicities. I think we just very much wanted it to be a celebration of individuality as well as feeling part of the brand.

Adrian: … Rather than tokenism.”

Edwina: “What’s really interesting is obviously, we designed the collection a long time in advance, ahead of seeing the models. But actually with casting every single time you can try one model on in many pieces, and she will just land a particular outfit. It’s so it’s almost like things are made for specific people. It’s really interesting.”

Aje 15 years

And finally, how would you describe your personal styles?

Adrian “I think mine is quite pared back. I think if you work in fashion, you just appreciate quality… “And craftsmanship,” nods Edwina. “I personally look at the clothes that were making a lot more than the clothes that I am wearing,” Adrian amuses.

“I think there’s a unique take on anything that we would both wear but it’s ultimately grounded in wearability and classicism I think. Because the clothes we wear need to work hard in a way. They need to be versatile and take us from place to place,” shares Edwina.

“A lot of black,” shares Adrian, firmly backed by Edwina “A lot of black.”

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