ALBA: an investment in the future
By Celina Tran | Photos: Cecilie Refsum
Designed in Norway, ALBA makes high-quality fashion inspired by art, culture and the Nordics’ signature sleek lines and palette. Combined with fashionable Italian waistlines and produced by the skillful hands of crafters in northern Italy, ALBA has created a clean and timeless wardrobe unbound from age, borders or fashion trends.
On social media, trends come and go so fast, that it often seems like the jumper you bought just last week, might not make it to the next, and is destined to end up on a landfill somewhere with the other frills that satisfied a momentary fancy. In the sea of fast-fashion, ALBA is a force for good, encouraging people to shop wisely.
“Our goal is to provide pieces that won’t go out of date, regardless of the season,” says Cecilie Refsum, stylist, photographer and co-founder of ALBA. Along with ALBA’s head of design and co-founder, Sara Holt, Refsum launched the brand in 2020 after two years of research, planning and creating. The two Norway-based women later brought on PR manager Solmaz Refling, and together, they make up the soul and very essence of ALBA.
The ultimate capsule wardrobe
Without actively following trends, ALBA’s timelessness allows them to seamlessly ride shifts in fashion. Their approach is to produce capsule wardrobes – a limited selection of pieces that complement each other, regardless of the combination, and which are often considered more timeless, minimalist and sustainable.
Alba’s clean lines and shapes, as well as their Nordic palette, reflect everything from the highest white peaks of the Norwegian mountains to the seafoam crashing against the beige coastal sands. Every item is carefully crafted according to the capsule approach, able to be effortlessly combined with any new or existing pieces.
“We also want the pieces we design to be flexible in terms of occasion, time of day and occupation,” says Refsum. “Take the Carla Vest, for example. It can be worn on its own or with a complementary item. You can wear it in the comfort of your own home as you lounge on the couch, or you could wear it to a fancy dinner with friends or colleagues.”
Refsum adds that this flexibility is a part of their mission to discourage fast fashion and impulsive, unsustainable purchases. “The fashion industry takes a toll on the environment, which is why we place such great importance on creating something that will last, both in terms of design and quality. Our pieces are all made from the finest fabrics – the famous Loro Piana Cashmere – or a combination of cashmere and silk,” she says.
Italy is not only the home of the yarn ALBA uses in its production, but also the home of their crafters and producers. Before the pandemic, Refsum and Holt travelled to Northern Italy, where they established relations with talented crafters who have since produced all of ALBA’s pieces.
“We want to support local craftsmen, and it’s important that we have a close relationship with our producers so that we can ensure good working conditions,” Refsum says. “Our producers are small family businesses that have been in the industry for generations. They take the utmost care and provide our Nordic designs with that southern, fashionable flair and waistline, helping us to create something the market hasn’t seen before. It’s timeless, yet it’s so incredibly unique and new.”
Refsum describes ALBA’s pieces as an investment, adding that, “the timeless is the future.” They have no intention of designing an endless number of collections that falter with age, but rather creating a few pieces that work for everything. So far, they have the ALBA Everyday and the ALBA Icon collections, which provide classic items for both formal and casual wear from day to day.
Icon is a nod to the iconic and inspirational women of history, and several of the pieces are named after famous figures in fashion, such as the Jackie Cocktail Jacket, a classic feminine jacket that elevates every outfit it is worn with, named after Jackie Kennedy, and the Sophia Dress, a timeless little black dress. Meanwhile, the newly released ALBA Sport includes the comfortable and fashionable Cortina Mittens, ready for the Nordic winter season.
By women, for women
“The three of us are very different women with different lives, personalities and ideas. Yet, we’ve got a common vision and a shared goal for ALBA: to create a fashion line for women by women, inspired by and aiming to inspire even more women to take chances and follow their own personal integrity,” says Refsum.
She adds that they are looking to design menswear in the future but intend on revelling in and perfecting their current collections before then. “Our very first product sells as well today as it did when we launched it, so it is evident that the careful, long-term planning is working. We’re going to apply that to any future collections as well, so we can ensure few, but sustainable pieces for our customers.”