Offering high fashion resort wear all year round, Salt has carved itself a niche among London’s most luxurious stores.
Salt founder Stephanie Alameida is an avid traveller and fashion fan. Her first luxury boutique Salt Resort Wear opened in May 2012 positioned among the likes of Chanel and Joseph on London’s Walton Street. The store was an immediate success, offering the well heeled locals access to global brands all year round – making it the destination to fill their suitcases.
“Having travelled the globe, I have built up an appreciation and respect of designers worldwide,” says Alameida. “My friends have always coveted my style and people kept on asking me where I got my pieces from. There was nowhere in London to get cool upcoming designers and so I thought I’d open a boutique. I have always loved fashion and therefore it felt like a natural fit.”
The success of Salt Resort Wear led to the launch of e-commerce site Saltresortwear.com and second bricks-and-mortar establishment Salt Store. The latter sells both resort wear and holiday inspired ready-to-wear throughout the year and “has become a hub of cool designers from Harare to Mugler.” Its popularity was also unprecedented. In May last year, Alameida decided to move it to a larger three-storey premises on Walton Street in Belgravia. The interior matches its original counterpart with clean lines and natural light that allow the clothing to take centre stage. “Its long high walls are beautiful and perfect for a mix of resort wear and ready to wear,” she says. “The store provides us with a fantastic and unique opportunity, to offer resort wear and ready-to-wear under one roof, 365 days a year.” Meanwhile, areas such as the changing rooms and staircases feature bold and exotic prints, derived from the owner’s love of travel and colour.
With resort wear remaining to be a seasonal category for the majority of retailers, Salt has become the go-to store for affluent globe trotters and fashion fans. “There has been a noticeable increase in people travelling long-haul in the winter months and a revised launch of cruise collections from premium designers,” says the owner. “I realised when I was looking that I could not find holiday clothes and accessories that were different, stood out and made a statement. I saw the opportunity for creating a winter sun wardrobe through Salt.”
Of course, adding ready-to-wear options into the mix gave the owner more buying flexibility. Selecting pieces from high-end designers including Osman, Dodo Bar Or and Allude means that the store can rotate its stock according to the season – bringing clothing to the forefront during autumn and winter. “Salt Store boasts a specially curated collection of brands to ensure that – no matter what the season or travel destination – there will be something for you, selected from designers all over the world,” says Alameida. “We stock a wide range of brands; we are excited to have welcomed McQueen into store as well as Barbara Casasola, which sits alongside beautiful accessory designers Yosuzi and Ken Somuda. Our mix of eclectic and cool labels and well known established brands makes Salt the number one shop for creating the perfect holiday wardrobe.”
Among the store’s best-selling brands this year include Zimmerman, Ulla Johnson, Saloni and Juliet Dunn. For the owner, her favourites include Marysia “the scalloped one-pieces and bikinis have sold like hot cakes this season” as well as Camilla and Emmanuela.
But the specialist mix of labels aren’t the only aspect of Salt that help it standout. Alameida has also worked hard to ensure that her team reflects the high-end feel of the clothes through its first-class service: “We offer a really personalised approach in-store,” says the owner. “Many of our staff are stylists and will help build an outfit or suitcase for you. They are really up to speed on events and dress codes. Once they have a selection of pieces, if another size is needed or alteration, they will make it happen.”
Its team is also clued up on the background of each designer and inspiration behind their collections: “Each one we bring together tells its own story,” says Alameida. “Perhaps of their designers’ travels, experiences or sources of inspiration. We talk to our customers about the clothes they choose and this enriches their shopping experience.” This is perfect for the store’s fashion-savvy clientele, who will happily spend £300 on a swimsuit and £200 on a bikini.
As with the rest of the industry, Alameida has seen a shift in customer expectation over the past few years and works hard to meet their needs. “Customers want fast purchases and the opportunity to see everything on offer with one glance,” she says. “At the same time, they won’t compromise on quality. Salt’s new store layout is ideal for time-conscious buyers who may decide on a last-minute getaway.”
Its owner’s ability to give customers what they want is no doubt the secret behind the success of Salt. “Our fantastic team are well-travelled style gurus who will offer expertise on everything from the ideal swimsuit for a pool party in Ibiza or the perfect kaftan cover-up for a hotel in Miami,” says the owner. They spend time with each and every one of our customers, to ensure they get the highest possible standard of customer care and wardrobe that compliments their individual style and body shape.”
To further promote sales during the AW16 season, Salt hosted one of its Meet the Designer events last month, which gave customers the chance to meet the faces behind some of its collections. Alameida aims to host more of these events throughout the year as it keeps adding more designers to its resort wear and ready-to-wear collections.
So what does the future hold for Salt? With plans to launch its own label and expand internationally to Asia, the sky is the limit for this premium independent. And as long as its customers continue to travel, the business’s concept is likely to translate to any luxury market on the globe.