Cult Australian fashion brand Aje, has opened its first international stand-alone store at Westfield Newmarket, Auckland.
Tiana Grace from The Last Fashion Bible spoke to one half of the design duo, Adrian Norris, in their Sydney showroom. Before settling into the interview we got a sneak-peak of the January collection — think dreamy coloured linen with contrast stitching. Read on to find out more about the brand’s exciting expansion plans into New Zealand and Norris’ own personal style.
Congratulations on opening your new store in Westfield, Newmarket. What prompted your decision to open a store in Auckland?
New Zealand is always on our radar. And, obviously, Auckland is probably the best fit for us, in terms of where all our online sales are coming from. We hadn’t found the right spot to open until Westfield approached us. We really liked the development. It’s amazing, probably better than any of the Westfield’s in Australia. So, when the opportunity came up, we thought it was the perfect fit and just went for it.
In a time when retailers are pulling back from brick and mortar stores, what prompted you to open another store?
I get this question all the time!
I think that when you’re a good retailer and listen to your customers and give them a product they want, at the right price – beautifully made, beautifully designed – then people will buy it. I think online is a great channel, it’s part of our business, but it’s not only our business. Some businesses are just online but that’s not us. We have stores, we have experience, we have great customer service when you go into any of our stores.
For me, when people ask, why do we keep opening stores? Because they’re successful and customers keep buying. As long as they keep doing that, we keep opening them.
Why do you think Ajé resonates so well with the New Zealand customer?
I think that, in a sense, we’re really similar, Aje and New Zealand. We love to be relaxed, but we also love beautiful quality clothing. And, I think, having something a little bit unique is what both New Zealanders and Australians are drawn to… that’s kinda what we do. It’s really unique, it’s beautifully made, the price is considered. We have a very similar market in that sense.
How would you describe your personal style?
I wear jeans and a t-shirt every day! I think that when you work in fashion so constantly like I do, you have a go-to bit of your wardrobe… and mine is basically jeans and a t-shirt. But I think it’s all about quality, fit and the cut, and the right colour and all that sort of stuff. Edi [co-founder, Edwina Forest] is definitely the one who gets to wear all our product, it’s not really my thing.
As a man involved in designing women’s clothing, how do you put your own stamp on it, interpret your personal style, through women’s wear?
That’s an interesting but hard question. I’ve always felt really easy to design women’s clothes. I think that being a man you sometimes have a different perspective. I also have a fine art background, so my designs are always very much about proportion, balance, and a whole lot of things. Whereas Edi’s probably a little bit kookier in that she likes asymmetrical stuff. We both design quite differently but when come together, that’s when it makes the magic. We find a happy medium.
The full Bloomscape collection shown at MBFWA (Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia) earlier this year, is now available. Is there anything you can tell us about what we can expect in the coming seasons?
Oh, gosh. We have a little time for Bloomscape which just dropped the day the store opened so New Zealand was one of the first ones to get it. So Bloomscape goes through October, November and December. And January is the one we were looking at over there, it’s beautiful.
The next collection is our premium collection that’s just shown in Paris. It’s amazing. That will be February/March.
Last time we spoke to Edwina she hinted there may be more projects with Mercedes-Benz on the horizon…
We did little drive days videos — we actually shot one in New Zealand. I don’t know if you saw it? It was really beautiful. We went to Queenstown, to the Snow Farm and drove all the AMG’s. That’s sort of what Aje is doing with Mercedes at the moment.
Is there anything you want your New Zealand customer to know about the brand? Or an introduction to the brand that, you know, they haven’t come across?
Go visit the store. It’s different for Auckland — I actually think it’s my favourite of all our stores. It’s really beautifully designed, beautifully spacious, natural, raw materials like stonework, hand-painted floors and a lot of curves. So, the feeling when you go in really evokes that feeling that the Aje’s clothing also has.
The Aje Newmarket store will also receive full collections; all the Fashion Week collections, all the core collections, all of our essentials, all of our t-shirts, our accessories and jewellery. The accessories are coming in about four weeks’ time.
That’s really exciting to have one of our retail stores there – especially of that caliber. We have the most amazing jewellery collection that we’re really, really proud of. There are great things for Christmas this year. Just go and have a look.
Where can we follow Aje?
On Instagram, @_aje_.
What don’t you leave the house without?
My dog. At the moment he’s attached to me. Constantly. That’s the one thing I won’t leave my house without because actually, he destroys my house. He is a staffie-cross-mastiff. He’s huge. He’s destroyed the house on numerous occasions, so I just find it easier to take him everywhere.
The Aje store is now open in Westfield Newmarket. Video and all imagery supplied.