After being in the industry for nearly a decade, a lot of people are familiar with Aje and their beautifully crafted garments. In the last year though, you might have noticed their presence quite a bit more in our fine state, first with the opening of the beautiful flagship store on Rundle Street, their involvement in the Adelaide Fashion Festival and they are now stocked in David Jones as well. On the eve of their return to Adelaide for this year’s festival, they’ve released their incredibly stunning and meaningful Resort 17/18 collection, ‘Awelye’, which has ties to local Indigenous art.
We sit down to chat to best friends, creative directors and design duo, Adrian Norris and Edwina Robinson about inspiration for the range, debuting the collection in New York City and their return to South Australia.
Can you tell us a little more about your newest collection, Awelye and what the inspiration behind the range was?
For Resort 17/18, we have been honoured to work with prolific Australian indigenous artist, Minnie Pwerle.
In honour of Minnie and her artistic intent, we have named the collection “Awelye” – the Anmatyerre tribal word for women’s ceremonies – a sacred time in tribal life where female tribal members celebrate the coming together of the body, the land, and the community through ritualistic dance.
By transposing selected works into Aje silhouettes, fabrications and techniques, we have endeavoured to communicate a message of women’s strength, femininity and a shared love of the Australian landscape in all its richness and diversity.
How did this collaboration with Pwerle Gallery come about?
Adrian studied at the prestigious Venetian Art School, Liceo Artistico Venezia, and we have both always been passionate about Indigenous Australian artwork. When Jade Torres – Minnie Pwerle’s granddaughter – contacted us about a potential collaboration, we were extremely flattered and immediately on board. Jade and her family have been so open and generous allowing us to work within Minnie’s archives to choose three of our favourite artworks to use within the collection in order to bring Indigenous art to the forefront in a new and unique way.
Aje showed this collection as a part of the Australian Fashion Chamber’s ‘Designers Abroad’ initiative in New York City, how did it feel to show all your hard work on such an international level?
Showcasing our brand to an international audience for the first time, was a wonderful yet humbling experience. We have worked so hard for so long on building our Australian retail platform to eleven boutiques, and since opening our doors to the international wholesale market, our aesthetic has been equally well received. The opportunity with AFC’s ‘Designers Abroad’ allowed us to tap into an expansive international market, and to do so with a collection that caries such a strong message, was indeed a proud moment.
We know you’ve been stocked here in Adelaide for a while now but Aje’s presence has really ramped up over the last year with the opening of your boutique and your presence at the Adelaide Fashion Festival both last year and this year, how does it feel to be back?
Adelaide is the hidden gem that holds a special place in our hearts – and we were very excited to open our boutique in the hub of Rundle Street last year. Adelaide is also the home to Jade and Fred Torres, and the Pwerle Gallery – so it made perfect sense to launch the collection here for our second consecutive year at Adelaide Fashion Festival.
After being in the industry for nearly a decade now, what’s the best advice you can give to young emerging designers?
It is crucial to have a strong sense of brand identity. From the beginning, we knew who the quintessential Aje girl was, and that our landscape, and our passion for artisan techniques would forever remain at the centre of our design philosophy. Create a vision, and stay true to it.
Aje is in really good company at David Jones, what are some of the other Australian labels that you find exciting?
We feel so lucky to be a part of the David Jones family, and to be recognised as one of Australia’s leading fashion brands, featured alongside so many amazing creatives is an honour. The brands that make up the David Jones family, epitomize the very best of Australian fashion – relaxed, unbridled and experimental in design – our home-grown designers are not afraid to take risks, highly innovative and quick to respond to consumer’s needs, which is so important in our oversaturated market.
What are you guys currently working on and what’s next for the label?
We are approaching an exciting milestone next year – one decade of Aje – so it is a very good time to reflect on the past, and set goals for the future of Aje.
We have seen amazing growth as a vertical business over the past 10 years, with eleven boutiques across Australia, a successful e-commerce platform, and incredible cut-through in the global market. From here, our focus is on continued growth throughout the Australian and global markets.
Aje are showing as a part of Runway 4 – Vogue Festival presents the David Jones Australian Fashion Showcase this Friday night at 8.30pm. Tickets are available here.
Adelaide Fashion Festival: The party to end all parties
For one night only, you can join the AFF x Clique and score yourself a spot at the fashion party to end all parties. Presented by our very good friends Spring Carnival @ Morphettville and hosted by AFF Creative Director, Chris Kontos and the AFF models, the AFF x White Marquee grounds – home to this year’s runway – will play host to all things fashion and fab.
When: Saturday, October 14 starting at 8pm.
Where: AFF X White Marquee Grounds, Torrens Parade Ground
How much: $85 –Tickets are $85 per head including two hour drinks package including cocktails and great food.
Buy your tickets here.