Sonja Long Xiao, is the founder and CEO of the Alter concept store, currently one of the top multibrand concept stores of China, launched in 2010. She feels she has a mission: “I have to be sensitive, be responsible for my customers, communicate with them and inspire them dressing and living trendily.”

Alter offers various up and coming designers, many of who are new to China. Long Xiao is a fashion and trend expert who also manages the Alter showroom, works as creative director of fashion label Rolling Acid and collaborates as a consultant for White Milano show for the Asian market. Her expertise stands out from her store’s image and varied and intriguing product selection. Interview by Maria Cristina Pavarini

What are the current bestsellers and why?
The current bestsellers are MSGM from Italy, G.V.G.V from Tokyo, Steve J&Yoni P from Korea. I think all these brands have a soul of breaking through, leading young people’s inspiration to look forward to the next trend. I think this aspect is what most of the other brands, presently sold in the Chinese market, are lacking.

Do people buy according to their favorite brand, style, or impulse?
It actually depends. Consumers often observe and watch the trend and learn new things. They sometimes break out of their “comfort zone” and listen to our buying team’s advice and look at our mix and match styling which can help them transform themselves into a new person.

Where do you order from? How do you inform yourself about trends?

I order from fashion weeks and showrooms from all over the world. Wherever there are new trends and creative thoughts, there I am!

How important is the communication with regular customers? How do you communicate with them?
It’s very important to communicate with my regular customers. To them, I am the one to be trusted to know the latest trends. I have this mission: I have to be sensitive and be responsible for them and communicate with them as often as I can. We actually also inspire each other in terms of how to style ourselves and how to live a trendy lifestyle. Not just about fashion, but also about where to go, where to eat, where to travel and have fun!

How do the collections you offer for next spring/summer look like? And what are the most important trends in general?
Blueberry denim is still a hot trend, also inspiration from the ’60s and ’70s, the sub culture inspiration, contemporary tribal stripes, casual sport wear, and futuristic styles.

Did you add any new labels to your assortment?
I have added Alena Akhmadullina from Russia, but also Minime Paris from France and Danielle Romeril from London.

How does your store differ from other stores?
One big difference from the others is that we never follow, we lead! Most of the brands from our store are debuting in the Chinese market. We take the change, we take a risk, and we are bold enough to have this spirit to give our customers the same attitude to be brave enough to try new brands and new style.

What do you like about your customers?
They are more than happy to try the latest trend and brands I take to my store. They are always looking for something new, which is quite challenging but that’s what I like the most about them!

How important is the interior, the atmosphere and the whole package?
Very important. Good interiors and atmosphere make your clients enjoy shopping so much more inside your store! Great interiors are also the best accompaniment of the product. Imagine beautiful collections in a trashy decorated store! What nightmare! Our current store is thoughtfully designed by Italian architecture studio 3Gatti inspired by my childhood imaginations with cubes and blocks. We also change the interiors every now and then, because we always want to give our customers something new and fun. We want to surprise and inspire them.

No 245 Madang Road
+86 021-63029889