Looking forward to next spring
The ageless brand Alma is poised for another great season under the leadership of the equally ageless Trude Karstensen.
Around the country, at 4Women, Dale in Ålesund and Modena in Sarpsborg, more and more people are discovering a certain pair of linen trousers with a beautiful drape. These trousers are from Alma – the brand that is the brainchild of Trude Jarmund Karstensen. Alma has experienced steady growth since its inception in 2020 and is now well-Testablished in the market.
Karstensen has extensive experience in the clothing industry. For several seasons, she developed collections in partnership with ARG (Airport Retail Group), but when a much-publicised virus infected an entire planet, the group decided to scale back its activities. At this point, Karstensen became infected with an exciting idea from Kristine Andersen i Texcon:
“But, Trude,” said Kristine Andersen, “why don’t you simply start up your own brand?” she recollects.
What went through your head at that point?
“I used an entire season to think about it. My conclusion was that I could at least give it a try. I had all the contacts and owned a collection I had produced in the past. So, I had a few different styles, in addition to creating some new ones.”
-“For someone like me on their own, being a Texcon supplier is like having a safety net.”Trude Jarmund Karstensen
Impressive. How would you describe yourself as someone who is doing this solo?
“Very effective and structured. When my husband leaves for his office, I get up and go to my office. Even though I have a home office, I structure my workday. I’m also very social. If I need some fresh air, I take a walk down Bogstadveien and meet some friends with shops there for a cup of coffee. We talk a bit about the industry and the latest developments.”
What do you think about being part of Texcon?
“The system works really well. Of course, for someone like me on their own, being a Texcon supplier is like having a safety net.”
Determination knows no age
This is definitely a lifestyle, after all…
“Yes, and that’s the constant challenge. Put it this way, you have to love working! And an understanding husband is also a must. He runs an architectural firm and knows that challenges can arise at any time, so we’re able to share some experiences.”
Taking on a new challenge ‘later in life’ is actually something that is not recommended. What are your thoughts on that?
“I think it has a lot to do with attitude. I don’t allow myself to have age anxiety. I mean, just look at the Rolling Stones; they’re still going strong,” she chuckles.
“In Norway, you might say we only go to bars at a certain age, but in other countries, this is less age-bound – where I can imagine it’s really cool to go to clubs and dance at any age. I’m not the type to sit around and as long as I’m in good health, active and am enjoying myself, I’ll keep going.”
In a past interview, you described your collection as ageless. You also mentioned that you were going to use lots of natural materials. Can you tell a little more about Alma?
“In autumn, the collection will feature 80 percent knitwear: merino, cashmere and viscose. I do actually use cashmere as part of my collection, try to stay away from synthetic textile fibres and work a lot with high-quality materials.”
And the spring collection?
“Lots of linen, cotton knit and linen knit. I’ve created and coordinated some nice modern prints to match the linen colours. I also have classic, wide linen trousers, as well as my absolute favourite with elastic at the bottom, a bit like palazzo trousers.”
Have you ever thought: “Good grief, what have I gotten myself into?”
“Whereas creating the collection itself is both fun and uncomplicated, it’s the unexpected developments over which you have no control that are the worst. Ninety percent of my spring collection is linen and last year, for example, I had one supplier who said, ‘Sorry, we can’t deliver anything because we can’t get our hands on any boats.’ In other words, it was complete chaos. The only option was to commandeer a plane and fly everything in, which cost several hundred thousand kroner.”
-“Creating the collection itself is both fun and uncomplicated.”Trude Jarmund Karstensen
Do you ever unplug from work?
“Even when I go on holiday abroad for four weeks, I always take my laptop with me. I never go on holiday the way other people do, but that’s the job
Named after her grandmother
That’s the job I’ve chosen’ sounds a bit brutal. But it is no coincidence that Karstensen is up to the challenge. After all, she’s inherited a toughness gene.
“My grandmother lived to be 96. When I was visiting home, I would stay with her occasionally. I would sit and work with the rest of the world on an iPad, while she sat and did crossword puzzles. She was one tough cookie and always supported me. So, I thought, ‘If there’s anyone who deserves to live even longer, it’s her.’ And that’s where the brand name comes from – because my grandmother was named Alma.”
The colour should be fantastic
How do you approach a new collection? “I think it’s extremely important to be interested in the design itself. I draw all my own sketches. Fit is the most important factor, but it’s also important that different elements go together well. When I’m creating a new linen shirt, I think, ‘Last year, I had this type of fold on the arm, so let’s try something new.’ So, I create a new arm, maybe switching to different buttons or adding some embroidery,” explains Karstensen.
“I often create groups within the collection. These groups are quite large when it comes to linen, with over 20 variations divided into trousers, dresses and so on. I’m very focused on ensuring that the colour is fantastic.”
Alma is produced in Turkey and China. Karstensen travels there often.
“I’m now considering going to Hong Kong since I haven’t been there since before the pandemic. Being in direct contact with a supplier is invaluable really.”
Equally thrilled every season
Alma is doing very well now. What do you think is the success formula?
“The main reason that the brand is growing is because my customers keep returning and are satisfied. I listen to them. There’s no reason to be a pushy seller either. I’m also thrilled with the new collection every season. I’m already looking forward to getting started on the next one,” concludes Karstensen.