Serving as a cross-boundary fashion playground, Shanghai’s most successful and alluring concept boutique; ALTER, was founded by Sonja Long Xiao in 2010. ALTER means ‘change’, and also stands for Art, Lifestyle, Taste, Essence and Rhythm: aiming to provide customers with multi-sensory shopping experiences. Through collecting trendy clothing and accessories from all over the world, Sonja’s fashion direction has pioneered the “Shanghai Look” for a new generation of young Chinese women.
Sonja, the current Shanghai contributor at Style.com and invited speaker of DICTION (largest fashion trend forecasting company in China), gained a master’s degree in Luxury Brand Management and Retail from the renowned Polimoda Institute in Florence, and had worked as a fashion buyer for Prada and Versace for ten years. Having noticed a gap in the Chinese market for lesser-known, high-end brands, or so-called “the gap between high-street and high-end” as she described, she was sparked with the idea to promote and sell international contemporary brands, to consumers from across Mainland China. Her wealth of knowledge and experience in public relations, marketing, retail operations, visual merchandising, supply chain and customer services, has made ALTER become a huge success under her directorship.
Sonja Long Xiao | © ALTER
ALTER’s in-house brand named ROLLING ACID, inherently plays with conflict, especially between commercial and conceptual. It’s a mixture of feminine and masculine, refined and organic, disruptive harmony and an ultimate celebration of freedom. ALTER’s aesthetics waxes distinctly quirky and curious young women. They target those who are knowledgeable, bold, fun and have naturally got an attitude or vision with a unique sense of style, and this is exactly how the “New Shanghai Girl” is defined.
Sonja takes the mission of bridging communication with her customers personally. Their conversations are not merely focusing on the area of fashion, but they also talk about food, places, people around and any other things they are interested in, inspiring each other in terms of how to style themselves and how to live a trendy lifestyle.
With Sonja’s sharp eye on outstanding design, she leads the professional and international buying team to source brands or designers from fashion weeks and showrooms around the world. A selection of innovative, edgy and irresistible brands such as J.W. Anderson, MSGM, Simone Rocha, Anthony Vacarello, ROSBALET are presented at ALTER. Currently, the concept store is carrying exciting brands such as Y/PROJECT, FACETASM, Richard Malone, YOHANIX, and the like.
“It is most important to find these raw and original talents. These young talents have to have their key brand DNA, strong identity, and original design, yet commercial-wise be easy and wearable” – ALTER
Great interiors are the best accompaniment to the product. In order to remain a sense of freshness, ALTER tends to change its interiors once in a while to surprise customers. For their recent renovation, Sonja came up with the idea of different sized cubes, where their simple frames can be altered and combined with infinite creativity and imagination. The whole concept store is designed by Italian architecture studio 3Gatti. Within these cubes, the specially curated light effects highlight the displayed garments, and the installed IPADs show slides of lookbooks and runway presentations of the brand’s latest collection. All elements of visual merchandising are thoughtfully planned to enhance the entire shopping experience.
As a leader and key store in China, ALTER received the acclaimed WGSN Global Fashion Award for the best new store in 2012. It was also nominated as one of the top 6 world super stores by FARFETCH and was featured in Louis Vuitton City Guide – Shanghai Edition.
With its bold, avant-garde style breaking the traditional fashion tastes, ALTER is one of the earliest states with this perspective. It is leading the city into the newest fashion trends. – Louis Vuitton “City Guide – Shanghai”
With special thanks to ALTER for the artistic insight and press materials.
Visit the ALTER Concept Store at Shop L116, No 245 Ma Dang Road, Xin Tian Di Style, Lu Wan District, 200021, Shanghai, China