A new look at Oleana

Blending past and present for the future

oleana

Photo: Oleana
The Heritage Collection is a beautiful blend of past and present in vibrant colors.

Louise Lysne Hanson
Rochester, Minn.

It was a chilly rainy morning in May. My husband, Walter, and I waited at the front door of our hotel and a very quiet small electric car pulled up. It was Gerda Fuglerud from Oleana. We were so happy to see her. It had been a couple of years since we had met with Gerda, who now owns Oleana with her husband, Steffen Fuglerud.

I should perhaps explain that Walter, and I own The Nordic Shop in Rochester, Minn. We were the first retailers to sell Oleana in the United States, beginning in 1993, a collaboration spanning three decades.

oleana

Photo: Louise Lysne Hanson
Gerda Fuglerud is CEO and co-owner of Oleana with her husband, Steffen Fuglerud.

Walter and I enjoyed a beautiful drive up the fjord to Ytre Arna where the Oleana factory is located. The factory is a large white three-story building nestled in a fjord right on the water. Years ago, this building housed a textile factory, and now it is home to Oleana.

We went to the office area, a bright open area in one end of a massive floor space.  A display room is encased in clear glass, enabling one to see the factory, offices, and even get a glimpse of the fjord through the clear walls.

Many of the current sweaters were on display along with a few 2024 designs. Gerda and her team are working on details of the next season. Color swatches were attached to the items.

We then toured the factory. There is so much detail in the production of every piece. The knitting machines are spitting out large pieces of sweaters. The detail staff then gets to work hand linking each of the collar edges and sometimes the front placket.

Buttons are sewn on and the steamer makes sure the garment is perfect before it is wrapped for delivery.  Every detail is perfect before it leaves.

sew

Photo: Louise Lysne Hanson
Oleana sweaters require close attention to detail.

The tech staff was busy cleaning the machines. With Gerda, they have designed a 3-D sweater. This cardigan: front, back, and sleeves is knitted in one piece. The “Carbon Copy” design needs one decorative seam in the back to finish the piece. This sustainable design saves yarn, energy, and time.

As we were walking out, I asked Gerda if it were possible to bring back a design that had been made years ago. She then showed me the cabinets at the door. One sample of every Oleana item is housed in these cabinets and drawers. We found the design I was hoping to see in this “Oleana Library.”

Oleana produces the Heritage Collection, which complements the Fashion Collection. The new Heritage patterns feature floral designs and signature color combinations.  The knit fabrics are a luxurious silk and wool combination. We are honored to have seen the collection firsthand in Norway, and we stock all new 2023 Heritage Designs in our shop in Rochester, Minn.

This article originally appeared in the November 2023 issue of The Norwegian American.

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Louise Lysne Hanson

Louise Lysne Hanson is the co-owner of The Nordic Shop in Rochester, Minn., with her husband, Walter. She is also on the board of directors of Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum in Decorah, Iowa. Learn more at thenordicshop.net.