Aje’s Adrian Norris and Edwina Forest, the designers behind “Australia’s best kept secret,” are coming for your closet—one fancy frock and stylish separate at a time. Their little sartorial secret made quite the loud noise at NYFW too, as influencers, editors, tastemakers, and industry insiders alike flocked to their first-ever presentation in Soho during the calendar, keen to see what’s to come from the brand beloved far and wide for its confectionary-like pieces that are good enough to eat. We caught up with the Aussies to hear what inspires them, how the brand is exploding across the globe, and to get a sense of what’s next.
Welcome to NYC! When was the last time you were here?
Adrian: Thank you! I was here back in May and so much has happened for us since. The US is where we are seeing a lot of customer demand—both from our online sales and through our international wholesale partners so it’s great to be here to explore the customer market myself.
How does it feel to be showing a collection during NYFW? And why did you decide to show in NYC this time?
Adrian: The last 18 months has been an incredible period of growth for the brand, inspiring us to keep on setting our sights higher. Presenting at NYFW is a major milestone in the next phase of our story; with a focus on expanding Aje’s US reach, we’re further connecting with our international customers and welcoming new Aje women to our world.
What do you love about the city?
Adrian: I love the meeting of creative forces, there’s a drive and energizing spirit innate to New Yorkers.
The collection is titled Lumen…tell us more! What was the jumping off point?
Edwina: We have long found inspiration in cycles in nature, and this season we were drawn to the grounding repetition of daybreak after darkness, especially the way the dawn’s first light illuminates the earth. The natural world, and Australia’s rich local landscapes in particular, have been guiding forces for us since the beginning. They are truly embedded in our design codes. Aje’s craftsmanship and innate visual language as an Australian fashion house is key to the magic that makes us so distinctive.
Are there any new categories or new silhouettes you’re debuting?
Edwina: The collection as a whole, rather than reflecting on one particular category or silhouette, is a continuation of Aje’s reverence for nature, art, and reinvention; cornerstones of Aje since inception. It feels poignant to be referencing both archival shapes and motifs so intimately connected to our identity as a fashion house for our first immersive foray into the US.
What else can we expect from this collection?
Edwina: With ‘Lumen’, we wanted to reimagine classic Aje silhouettes through a lens of deconstruction and reconstruction. We looked at a number of pieces that defined our early years, such as bustiers, and sought to evolve them with some of our more modern techniques and shapes, envisioning them for today’s Aje woman. This season, the color palette is a spectrum of sunrise hues, complemented by cool yellows and sky blues as if kissed by early morning dew. We have interspersed shades of midnight and cloud to echo the duality that anchors the brand, as well as grounding tones of wood and stone.
Despite the pandemic, the brand has gone from strength to strength. Why do you think people gravitate towards your occasionwear and most special pieces?
Adrian: What we offer people is so thoughtfully considered and crafted, within an attainable price point that they can grasp, and in turn wear on a daily basis. Our secret sauce in Australia, and what buyers often comment on, is how Aje is always considered with our customer at the heart of everything we do. We challenge the notion that luxurious clothing needs to be exorbitantly priced.
Edwina: Steering clear of trends, designing for longevity, and removing ourselves from comparisons with what other brands are doing, are key elements to our success. It’s what makes Aje unique—we tread our own path. While others may shy away from their Australian heritage, we’ve been proud to stand by that.
What do you hope customers feel when they wear an Aje design?
Edwina: Aje has naturally grown into a platform for women to celebrate their own contrasts and complexities. We design for the Aje customer to feel like the fullest version of themselves, balancing all of their dualities—assertive and vulnerable, considered and effortless, highlighting the beauty of the imperfect and untamed.
Where does the name come from?
Adrian: A meeting of our creative forces and friendship. Adrian Meets Edwina.
Where’s on your to-visit list in NYC this time around?
Adrian: I’d love to find the time to visit Virgil Abloh “Figures of Speech” at Brooklyn Museum and The Armory Show. I’ve also been enjoying workout sessions at Dogpound to start my days.
What’s next for the brand?
Adrian: This presentation is our next step towards global expansion. It’s the start of a new global chapter for the brand. When I was last in New York, everyone was telling me, ‘Aje is Australia’s best kept secret’—it feels like now is the right time to tell our story on an international scale.
See the Spring Summer ’23 collection here: