You can now shop this celeb-loved Aussie label in Boutique 1
BRB, just off to fill up our cart...
Celebs love an Australian brand almost as much as they love Middle Eastern labels and now it's easier-than-ever to get your hands on one of Down Under's most sought-after names.
Boutique 1 has just announced that it will now stock Aje moving forward, marking the brand's second stockist in the region. Known for its effortlessly cool, feminine aesthetic, the Sydney-based brand is a go-to for the Australian fash pack. It's the brainchild of Adrian Norris and Edwina Robinson (the name stands for 'Adrian joins Edwina') and also boasts a slew of top models and celebrities from across the globe as fans including Gigi Hadid.
With the first pieces from the brand's spring/summer collection having arrived in store at Boutique 1 at the end of last week, we caught up with Edwina to chat about why the brand works in the region and how they plan to celebrate their 10-year anniversary...
First things first, I want to confirm the pronunciation because I've heard a couple of different ones over the years!
[Laughs] Well being Australian it is pronounced like age but we quite love 'arje' because it sounds a lot more elegant. So either way!
You're available on Ounass and now you're stocking in Boutique 1 for the first time — why was now the right time for you to begin to expand your stockists in the Middle East?
We've been a vertical business up until now — we have 12 of our own stores in Australia and we're also in David Jones which is considered the most high end boutique to be in terms of department stores in Australia. We have always had plans to expand internationally when the time felt right. For us, the retail story has allowed us to tell the brand story properly within our own environment and to completely understand who the customers are and what they want from us.
With the Middle East, the climate is hot for such a large part of the year like [in Australia] and I think certain fabrications are being responsed to very well there. I think they're also not scared to push boundaries, they're quite fashion forward, which is great.
A lot of people always associate Australian brands with amazing quality and effortless designs which I think Aje perfectly embodies also...
Having our own stores, we wanted to tell an entire story. We have fashion-forward pieces but we also have denims and leather and pieces that you can wear quite effortlessly by day but that you can also wear through to the evening depending on how you accessorise. Quality has always been at the forefront for us and we do a lot of our prints by hand, a lot of the fabrics are hand-loomed, and we kind of always go back to this artisan sensibility, which has always been a big part of our brand.
I think as far as Australia goes, we're just a big island [laughs] so we've kind of had to do things our own way so that might be why we're so forward is that we've kind of had to be in order to make waves internationally.
I think [women in the Middle East] aren't scared to push boundaries, they're quite fashion forward, which is great.
How would you describe the Aje woman?
We do so much research into our customer in Australia and now that we're branching out internationally we'll do the same there — there seems to be four types of customer. When we actually design, there's different elements that each customer will want from us. There's one that's more ladylike and will need longer hemlines and perhaps a slightly longer sleeve and not an open back so there's many considerations that we have to take into account to make sure that we have a well-rounded offering.
When we started, we had one beautiful shop in Noosa, Australia, where a lot of people came for holidays. The idea originally was to have a brand that merged the coastal fashion with this kind of cosmopolitan city fashion, and also for mothers and daughters. We really wanted to cross that whole divide of humans and we probably went both ways for a while and now we've got a really good balance.
You've got these amazing dresses like we spoke about earlier but you also have these incredible T-shirts that customers keep going back for every season...
The T-shirt is mad! We have to upgrade the T-shirt every single season. We do offer it internationally but because people are only just starting to learn the brand itself the actual name doesn't have as much strength as yet but in Australia we have to have a different colour each season, we have to have a new logo each season, and we just cannot keep them in stock. It's baffling [laughs] but great!
I know you've offered a personalised tee option in the past in Australia — is this something you'd look at bringing to the Middle East?
Yes absolutely, we're just gauging what each store wants from us at the moment and as their trust in the brand grows and they start to understand what is selling well and what their customer is wanting, they'll probably start to buy wider into the brand. But for now, stores like Boutique 1 are wanting cool eveningwear from us.
We're actually just overwhelmed by the warmth of the UAE and how embracing they are of different designers. It's really amazing. There's only about three different areas at the moment that have been as receptive and it's at the top.
Have you been to the region before?
I have stopped over! But this is giving me more and more reason to so for sure we will stop and experience it properly.
We're actually just overwhelmed by the warmth of the UAE and how embracing they are of different designers. It's really amazing.
How does art influence your designs?
Generally, in some capacity, whether we're collaborating specifically with an artist or taking inspiration from an artist that means something to our brand, we have a tie back to us. We've always been very into art. A lot of our prints are actually hand-painted by my business partner [Adrian].
This year marks 10 years in the business — have you got anything special planned to celebrate?
Yes 10 years, it's quite a milestone moment for us. In this climate of retail, it's been amazing for us. You need to have the design side and the business acumen to continue so we feel super proud to be at this point.
I can't name the artist we've collaborated with just yet but it's one of Australia's most prolific artists that we've teamed up with [on a special collection]. We've gone into his archive and worked with six of his artworks and we'll stage a big runway show [in Australia] on May 2 just ahead of fashion week here.