We Are Aware.
We acknowledge the fashion industry has a far-reaching and wide-ranging effect on the planet and its people; and believe we must work together as a collective to make sustainable practises and behaviours commonplace, with a greater conscience towards the human and environmental cost of clothing.
We understand that change begins with us, one action at a time.
We are not yet where we want to be, but we value integrity and transparency. For this reason, we want to share our ongoing journey and commitment to participating in positive change for our industry.
We understand that fashion requires greater accountability around our impact on the Earth, and to ensure fair working conditions for all humans throughout our supply chain.
We have been through a period of introspection and critical evaluation, identifying where we can make immediate and long term changes in our sphere, because every conscious action we take now, will bring about the change that is needed.
There is still much to do.
We will continue to share our progress along the path ahead, for visibility and accountability, to ensure that when you wear Aje, you know we are wholeheartedly making conscious decisions to do better together and be better for the beautiful world we live in.
Our mission is to Minimise Our Impact On Earth and Maximise Our Positive Impact On Humanity.
This Is Aje Aware.
Edwina Forest and Adrian Norris
Our Story So Far.
Aje’s head office is on Gadigal land, where we pay our respects to the Elders past, present and emerging. Aje acknowledges the traditional custodians of the lands on which our teams work, live and learn throughout Australia.
Aje was founded in 2008 and has always purposefully designed against trends, to ensure that every piece is unique and stands the test of time, able to be worn again and again, regardless of your age.
Since the brand’s inception, Aje has worked in close proximity to artisan garment makers in both Bali and China. In the early years, the Aje team operated from the Bali studio themselves, with Co-Founder Adrian Norris based out of Indonesia. Since returning to Australia and opening up manufacturing in China, CEO Adrian Norris has visited all Aje factory partners to ensure they meet rigorous standards.
Aje has long recognised the importance of inclusion and community. Diversity is celebrated and a founding principle of the brand, taking inspiration from multicultural Australia throughout all visual communications since inception.
Community is central at Aje, and the Co-Founders have a proud history of using the Aje platform to advocate for people with less of a voice. Aje has strived to shine a light on causes that affect Australia, from droughts and bushfires on the land, to the rights of our First Nations people and the LGBTQI community.
Aje is also a passionate ally to the Arts community and proudly collaborated with the estates of Brett Whiteley and Minnie Pwerle, two of Australia’s most revered artists. Edwina Forest was also a founding supporter of the Atelier program at the Art Gallery of NSW.
Discover the eight Aje Aware pillars, the guiding principles for how Aje will minimise our impact on Earth and maximise our positive impact on humanity:
Aje is a brand that values integrity and conscience, reflected in the individuals and culture of the company. It is paramount that each individual within the world of Aje is nurtured and protected, and that equality and social justice go hand in hand with creating a sustainable environment.
Aje has worked in-house and closely with external advisors to develop a Code of Conduct, available to read here.
The Aje Code of Conduct applies to diversity, inclusion and equality, environmental impacts, animal protection and welfare, responsible sourcing and procurement.
Aje is committed to working with carefully chosen suppliers and partners to promote innovation and transformation and to reduce the environmental and social impact of manufacturing and packaging.
This commitment and willingness drives the Aje team to continuously improve the efficiency of business processes and operations, as well as people’s working conditions in relation to our own activity and the ecosystem in which we operate.
Aje has always celebrated and respected the craftsmanship, techniques and care required to create its unique garments, historically working alongside artisan workers in a dedicated Bali studio.
As the brand has grown, Aje has continued to seek a level of connection and confidence in knowing who is making each collection. This requires an ongoing assessment and evaluation of fair working conditions to ensure the required standards are met. Aje is on a journey towards understanding the depth of complexities surrounding supply chain, and the barriers around full transparency.
As outlined in the Code of Conduct, Aje’s vendors and world partners are required to focus on labour practices that ensure all workers are treated respectfully and with dignity. This includes adopting the principles set out in the ETI Base Code, founded on the conventions of the International Labour Organisation.
The Aje team recognises that some local laws do not meet the desired expectations, therefore the team is committed to proactively ensuring all suppliers comply with the rigorous standards outlined in the code of conduct.
Aje passionately believes in the equal rights of all humans within our world. Giving back and supporting a brighter future for those less fortunate is deeply important to the founders and wider Aje team.
In the past 12 months Aje has donated to and raised awareness of causes that need urgent attention in Australia, including the Royal New South Wales Fire Service, Rural Aid, Thread Together, Yalari and Adopt Change.
On an ongoing basis, the brand continues to support causes close to the founders’ hearts, working with partners to support Australian communities, Indigenous culture, the natural world and the education and empowerment of children.
In 2020, Aje collaborated with David Jones and the Australian Literacy and Numeracy Foundation to create a tee with all proceeds supporting education for Indigenous children. A further charity tee initiative went live in November 2020 with charity Adopt Change founded by Deborra-lee Furness, to raise awareness of the almost 45,000 children in the out-of-home care system in Australia. 100% of proceeds went towards the Yesvember #aHomeForEveryChild campaign. Adrian and Edwina are proud to bring awareness of these initiatives to the Aje community.
“Championing causes that make for a better Australia and wider world inspires us to keep doing better. Our goal is to use our platform, resources and voice to maximise our positive impact on humanity.”
– Adrian Norris, CEO
Aje acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of the land on which we work, live and learn, and all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander custodians across Australia. We pay our respects to their Elders past, present and emerging. As we enter into discussions around sustainability, we recognise the leadership of all First Nations people around the world, and the deep connection to the land and wisdom the Aboriginal people of Australia have held for over 65,000 years.
Aje works with Aboriginal leader, mentor and Aje team honoree Yvonne Weldon, Chairperson of the Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council and proud Wiradjuri woman, to ever-evolve our knowledge and understanding of community and culture. The team recognises the enormous enrichment that cultural exchange has brought.
Aje has always strived to authentically celebrate and represent Australia’s Aboriginal heritage and culture over the past 12 years across campaigns and collections. Aje regularly profiles Aboriginal artists and thought-leaders, and in 2016, collaborated with the estate of one of Australia’s most important and iconic Aboriginal artists Minnie Pwerle for the Resort 17 Awelye collection, showcased at the Gallery of New South Wales in Sydney.
“We are committed to being an active ally, and recognise that this requires social action.” Edwina Forest, Creative Director
In 2020 our Creative Director Edwina Forest collaborated with Marie Claire in an effort to help bring attention to the Uluru Statement From The Heart.
Being an ally requires ongoing reflection through listening and learning. With ongoing consultation, Aje will have some exciting initiatives to announce in 2021.
Aje is fiercely committed to inclusion and celebrating diversity, embracing talented people that align to our Code of Conduct; people with diverse backgrounds and experiences. Aje supports polices and practises that prohibit discrimination against any person because of race, colour, national origin, religion, gender, gender identity, age, marital status, disability, sexual orientation or any other characteristic protected by law.
Working with diverse talent has long been at the heart of Aje. From the earliest days of the brand, Aje creatives have always collaborated with a diverse representation of models, artists and visionaries and the team continue to seek out the brightest and best in the industry; celebrating our long-standing partnerships and welcoming new creatives to our realm.
Aje supports and advocates for women of all races, ages, gender identities and sexual orientations by way of dressing, seeding and profiling across Aje channels.
Aje proudly stands shoulder to shoulder with the LGBTQI+ community. In 2018, the company ardently supported the YES campaign for marriage equality in Australia, encouraging the Aje community to stand on the right side of history. Australia said YES!
Actions speak louder than words; and the continued focus will remain on equal representation of humans of all backgrounds through Aje creative and activities.
“At Aje, we are for all humanity: everyone is welcome in our world.”
– Edwina Forest, Creative Director
Aje’s heritage lies in the use of natural fibres in designs, from cottons to linens to wools. These fibres continue to form a basis to each collection, however, not all fibres in our garments achieve the outlined goals for recyclability and sustainability.
Aje is continuously working towards adopting sustainable practices in design and the team has started researching and testing fabrics such as organic cottons, tencel and recycled polyesters in recent collections.
This will be an evolution over time, so we have started by identifying the processes and product categories that are most harmful to the environment in order to have the greatest impact, most quickly. As such, new sustainability initiatives will be launched over the coming 12 months focusing on jersey and denim.
A hugely popular fabrication among Aje customers, jersey has been identified as an essential area in which positive change can be enacted through the use of more sustainable fibres. The designers are working on exciting initiatives in this space that will be announced in the coming 12 months.
Denim is a key part of the Aje range, but one of the worst environmental offenders globally. As such, Aje denim is manufactured at a location with a water waste recycling plant, ensuring the water system is cleaned and recycled, to drastically reduce toxic dyes being released into the local environment
Fibre and fabric certifications are being sought on an ongoing basis, and prioritised as a part of our Aje Aware journey.
Animal welfare is important and a conscious decision has been made to ban angora, exotic animal skin and fur at Aje. Feathers, when used, must be collected without causing harm.
Only by-product leathers can be used and the team is researching recycled PU as a leather alternative, keeping a close watch on developments in this space.
Printing and Use of Dyes
In the vast majority of production, Aje uses digital printing over screen printing as it involves substantially less ink - and therefore waste - than screen printing. However, the water pollution that results from dyeing fabrics is one of the worst offenders of manufacturing. Aje is working with manufacturing partners to use water cleansing filter systems in key fabrications (denim) and requiring factories to have water recycling methods in place via the code of conduct.
Careful aftercare of any garment is the optimal way to prolong its life, maximising wears and minimising the impact on the environment. Aje is dedicated to both creating timeless garments designed for any age, and actively educating customers on clothing maintenance methods that are gentler on the environment.
Currently the majority of the Aje range is designed for delicate hand wash or hand/machine wash. By washing on cooler temperatures and air drying, the environmental impact of each individual garment is lowered.
For items that are dry clean or professional clean only, a chemical free or sustainable dry cleaning process will promote the ongoing sustainability of the garment. As transition is currently underway to move to sustainable providers within Aje operations.
The first Aje Aware collaboration with global footwear brand Superga was a worldwide exclusive organics partnership. Aje is seeking sustainable collaborators for ongoing product development. Expressions of interest can be sent to email@example.com
Aje is continuously striving to eliminate the use of all non-recyclables throughout the supply chain.
The entire Aje team is committed to ongoing sustainable purchasing practices - from design and production teams in the process of creating new garments, to the sales and press showrooms presenting the collections and the retail teams working on the shop floor. Each step of the collection’s journey is considered in terms of non-recyclables.
Our collective endeavour is to maximise the circularity of Aje packaging through the use of recycled and recyclable materials, with the commitment that all Aje packaging across our suite will be recyclable by the end of 2021.
Significant strides have already been made in this area, starting with the supply chain, where plastic bags are utilised to ensure garments remain in immaculate condition throughout the logistics process. From December 2020, all soft plastic bags will be made from recycled plastic, able to be recycled again at your local soft plastics recycling facility. To illustrate the pronounced commitment to this cause, Aje is setting up a soft plastics recycling scheme via our 20-strong store network enabling customers to bring their bags to be recycled. The designers continue to closely review the latest technologies in biodegradable packaging and plastics, and will integrate this into Aje’s supply chain as soon as technology allows.
Aje shopping bags distributed in stores are made from recycled cardboard. Online orders are delivered in cardboard or plant-based satchels, depending on the size of your order.
The team look forward to continued evolution in this space.
Aje is also committed to avoiding adding more items into the world where they already exist. Wherever feasible, existing items such as hangers, garment bags and other reusable items will be kept in circulation within Aje and among wholesale partners.
Water pollution, air pollution, increased waste, depletion of natural resources, loss of biodiversity, destruction of ecosystems, cultural impacts on the lands of First Nations people and the threats of the global climate crisis are all areas in which Aje seeks to participate in the change and reduce impact. There are various local and international environmental guidelines which exist in countries in which Aje operates but it is recognised that in many places the bar needs to be set higher.
At Aje, the team is committed to design and manufacture our products with sustainable consideration, with an immediate focus on reducing our waste and the use of non-recyclables.
Practices are being instilled at every level across our operations to reduce unnecessary wastage.
A concerted effort has been made to reduce the carbon footprint of Aje operations by consciously reducing the use of aviation in freighting logistics with the vast majority of collections now freighted via sea.
The team are setting ambitious goals towards transparency in all tiers of our supply chain by 2025 and will continue to keep our customers updated. Partner factories are required to uphold strict environmental standards as outlined in the Aje Code of Conduct around water pollution, the use of toxic dyes and emissions.
Aje is a supporting donor to Groundswell Giving, Australia’s first giving circle funding strategic, high impact climate action.
Store and Head Office Operations
A Sustainability Charter is upheld by the Aje team, who have committed to 10 principles of sustainable behaviour.
The change we seek begins at home, with the implementation of better systems across recycling and waste management.
Upcycling Within the Retail Network
Aje is a proud retail business, with beautiful store interiors that are carefully created using natural materials and non-plastic finishes wherever possible. Aje also advocates the upcycling and re-use of materials from previous interiors into new ones, with the recent example of the Macquarie refurbishment taking beautiful elements from the Sunshine Plaza pop up store and rehoming them in a lovingly repurposed space. The continued focus is on reusing, restoring and repurposing without detracting from aesthetic beauty is a cornerstone of Aje store design.
Aje fiercely condones the destruction of end of life stock, which is a practice in which the brand has never been involved. All end of life stock will be donated to charitable initiatives or recycled.
Diverting Plastic Packaging from Landfill
Aje ships online orders in biodegradable plant-based satchels or recyclable cardboard. The soft plastic bags inside can be recycled via Aje stores in our recycling scheme.