ARV honors legacy

Three young women bring their family’s legacy of clothing design back to life

Photo: Michaela Potterbaum

Photo: Michaela Potterbaum

Line Grundstad Hanke
Seattle, Wash.

I am always curious about new design and designers from Norway. As an avid user of Instagram, the app built around taking and sharing interesting photos, I have found it very helpful in following new creative people. Images can say so much and inspire us.

Among my Instagram discoveries was ARV. I found them this way and started following them, and after I contacted them in Ålesund, Norway, they agreed to grant me a short interview. I feel we all should hear about them, since they do have a message in their design.

Line Grundstad Hanke: Who is ARV?

Elisabeth Alnes Stavik: We are two sisters and a sister in-law that have taken up the ARV legacy from our great grandfather and grandfather on our mother’s side, and we are just around the corner from launching our new collection named ARV in English Legacy.

Our first collection consists of coats for women. We launch September 15 on www.miinto.no, an Internet site for clothing lines, brands, designers, and retailers in Norway.

We are: Elisabeth Alnes Stavik, 26 years old (sister); Maria Berggren, 29 years old (sister); and Trine Hege Sæle Alnes, 26 years old (sister-in-law). You can find us at our studio in downtown Ålesund.

Trine Hege studied at the Kunskole in Ålesund and is a photographer. Maria studied at Sydnet with focus on leadership, and has experience in retail. I have a bachelor in Innovasjon og Entreprenørskap from høgskole (college) in Ålesund and many years in retail experience.

Photo: Michaela Potterbaum  ARV’s coats work for both everyday and special occasions, are comfortable as well as unique.

Photo: Michaela Potterbaum
ARV’s coats work for both everyday and special occasions, are comfortable as well as unique.

LGH: Where did you get the idea from?

EAS: Our great-grandfather Olav Tomren started a konfeksjonsfabrikk (clothing factory) named “Tomren Fabrikker” at the end of 1920 in a small town called Tomrefjorden in Møre og Romsdal. He was educated as a skredder (tailor), and after a few years the collection grew to clothe both men and women. In addition to the factory, they had 24 retail locations in Norway and one in Copenhagen. They designed and made clothing for both men and women and were especially known for their coats for women; that ultimately was a large export to Sweden as well.

When our grandfather Odd Tomren was old enough and got the experience it was only natural for him to take over the business. The business came to an end and went bankrupt at the end of 1970 when Norway had opened up for import.

When my sister and I grew up our mother told us all about the factory and her childhood; our grandfather never gave us any details about this. He felt a sadness and responsibility that many lost their jobs and at the peaks they had employed around 400.

A few years before our grandfather passed (four years ago), he showed us drawings and catalogs from Tomren production from the 1950s and the beginning of the 1960s. It was a special day, since he shared his experience with us for the first time. After this we got inspired and started with an idea that in the beginning was a dream but in the end became a reality to us.

A decision we made a year ago was to create a collection of coats for women. We have since then been in a learning curve.

LGH: What is your inspiration and design concept?

EAS: Our inspiration comes from the old drawings from Tomren production. But we are not making copies from past, rather making a new design that has the expression of today, including what we like and what inspires us. That is the strong focus in the design.

We are making coats that work for both everyday and special occasions, that are comfortable as well as unique in design and timeless.

The most important thing that we carry on from our great grandfather and grandfather is their verdier, or values.

We aim for quality rather than quantity; we made sure that they have a good relationship for the workers in Poland who make our coats. It is important that the fabrics are of good quality as well. We use natural fibers such as wool, virgin wool, alpaca, and mohair, and some nylon. Most of the fabrics are from Italy.

We make sure that it is aesthetically good.

We found it important to carry on with the names from the old productions that we were inspired from, and they are Lulu, Nohme, Liv, etc.
So all in all it was only natural to call it ARV/Legacy to honor our family generation of business.

In concluding, I am excited to see young women follow their dreams to honor their family history and carry on a message. I hope we all can try to follow our dreams in any aspect that will make us happy and content with our own lives.

ARV’s coats will be for sale in Norway, but through inquiries from the company’s website you can order coats from abroad. They are working on creating an Internet shop so that one can purchase internationally. The website is www.arvdesign.no

This article originally appeared in the Sept. 26, 2014 issue of the Norwegian American Weekly. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (800) 305-0271.

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