Andrea Karg: Love at first touch
The German founder of Allude Cashmere, which offers authentic and luxurious cashmere knitwear, talks to Discover Germany about how she managed to turn an initial idea into an internationally successful high-fashion brand.
Luxurious and surprising – Allude is coined by Andrea Karg’s love to experiment. The designer was the first one to incorporate intarsia, Swarovski crystals or pearls into cashmere and today offers various shapes, colours and patterns. With a high degree of craftsmanship, technical expertise, the highest quality and modern design, Andrea Karg was able to establish Allude as the first label exclusively specialised in this special material.
Why did you decide to end your law studies to pursue a career in fashion?
A. Karg: “The passion for cashmere started when I first felt how soft this wonderful material is – it was love at first touch. From this fascination derived the idea of an own cashmere collection. I didn’t want to do anything else.”
You travelled to China on your own to search for the best raw materials. Which idea and philosophy stood behind founding Allude?
A. Karg: “When I was looking for the perfect cashmere pullover more than 20 years ago, I didn’t find one so I thought that many other people probably can’t either. Thus, I wanted to redefine cashmere and process the soft wool into fashionable pullovers and cardigans to create feminine and unconventional collections. This is still our core competence today. Allude stands for cashmere design, quality and luxury.”
Was it hard to establish the brand at the start?
A. Karg: “Maybe it sounds a bit naïve as I didn’t design anything before but I knew exactly what I wanted. So I sat down, wrote a to-do list and taught myself a great deal about different topics – how do I get the material, where and how does it get processed, how do I organise the distribution? I had a clear vision and didn’t give up. My first piece, a waisted v-neck pullover in 15 different colours, made it into leading German fashion shops right from the start. This pullover is still Allude’s top-selling model today.”
Your brand has successfully existed in the luxury segment for over 20 years. How do you explain this long-term success?
A. Karg: “I’ve always had a sense for needs, I never stand still and absorb inspiration everywhere. Alongside my team, I constantly work towards expanding the brand experience for our clients. Therefore, we opened the first Allude Cashmere Clinic in Munich last autumn. I don’t see our primary mission in constantly creating new collections as I want our clients to enjoy their products for a long time. Thus, we help all cashmere patients in the Cashmere Clinic – even if it isn’t an Allude item. Last but not least, healthy economic growth is surely another secret of success.”
How would you describe Allude Cashmere in only a few words?
A. Karg: “Luxurious, surprising, desirable and confident – sensual cashmere knitwear that combines technical know-how, modern design and craftsmanship.”
Do you have tips for young designers that want to start their own label?
A. Karg: “It’s vital to know exactly what one wants to achieve and to intensively grapple with all relating topics. A great deal of passion and commitment is important too.”
What are your goals and projects for the upcoming months?
A. Karg: “In 2016, the collaboration with Net-a-Porter is a huge milestone. Since September, our products are sold in this large, exclusive online retailer. Another one is our own online shop – after all, one of my most important goals is to further internationalise the brand. In November, we will open the first Allude Store in Kitzbuehel and more are planned for 2017. Despite being sold in over 37 countries; our cashmere story is far from over. I want to keep captivating and surprising my customers with my collections.”
● 1993 – Andrea Karg founds Allude Cashmere.
● Since 2012 – Allude has been the only German fashion brand that shows its collection during the official calendar of Paris Fashion Week.
● The company is based in Munich.
● More than 700 international retailers carry the brand, including Le Bon Marché in Paris, Harrods in London or Barneys in New York.
TEXT: NANE STEINHOFF | PHOTOS: MATTHIAS ZIEGLER
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