Fashion Designer Si Fan Zhao on Making Clothing That’s Both Trendy and Timeless

The owner of Old City boutique Founder Alliance STS uses environmentally friendly fabrics to create garments that feel special no matter where you're wearing them.

Fashion designer Si Fan Zhao poses for a photo in her shop. / Photograph by Jauhien Sasnou

What I make: I use environmentally friendly fabrics to create women’s-wear pieces that are both trendy and evergreen, from buttery-soft knit sweaters to denim jackets and dress shirts to linen pants with streetwear influences.

Whom I dress:  My ideal customer is any woman who wants to feel a little bit special everywhere she goes, whether it’s the office or a party. I dress women ages 20 to 60 regularly, and all of them have one thing in common: They’re mentally young and very excited about the world.

On finding Philly: I moved to Philadelphia from Beijing in 2018 because I wanted a city with a slower feel. Everybody in Beijing is always rushing, going somewhere, so I really like it here. People stop and talk to each other.


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How my aesthetic has evolved: I started designing more than 20 years ago, and since then, I’ve focused a lot more on how to make my designs tactile — how the feel of the fabric and its texture can make each piece more comfortable and timeless.

Where to shop: My boutique, Founder Alliance STS, located at 21 North 3rd Street.

Published as “Timeless Trendsetter” in the January 2022 issue of Philadelphia magazine.