INTERMIX Interview

Leading multi-brand retailer INTERMIX opened its new location in Palo Alto, CA this past May 24th. The store design was inspired by the region’s architecture, a mixture of both natural and industrial materials, to localize the feel. Local artist Aleksandra Zee has three-dimensional art installations featured in the store.

The store opening featured 3 products especially created specific for this location. INTERMIX teamed up with ELEVENPARIS to create limited edition sweatshirts. Exclusive art will be featured at each upcoming opening and will debut one at a time. The Palo Alto store features a “City of the Future” design.

Flash Drive necklaces by luxury jewelry brand Vita Fede were created for the Palo Alto store to represent the integration of fashion with technology. Besides having a hidden 8GB flash drive the necklace is also composed of 24K rose gold, black and white jasper stone and Swarovski crystals.

Local artist Heather Day partnered with INTERMIX to design a one of a kind tote bag for the store. The first 250 customers after the grand opening will receive the bag as a gift with purchase.

As some background information, Khajak Keledjian founded Intermix with his brother when he was 19 years old, which was in 1993. In December 2012, the company, which has more than 35 boutiques in the U.S. and Canada, was sold to Gap Inc. for $130 million. Mr. Keledjian maintains the title CEO and remains hands on, traveling to find new designers and helping choose styles sold in the stores.


KG – WHAT INITIALLY GOT YOU INTERESTED AND INVOLVED WITH FASHION?

KK – When I was young, we would spend time in Europe, and I started noticing the way Europeans dressed. I’ve always been interested in fashion – I bought my first pair of Versace sunglasses at age 13 with money I’d saved in my piggy bank. In my early teens, my brother and I decided to “invent” white jeans. We put our Levi’s in the bathtub and soaked them in Clorox for three days until they were bright white. We told our family that bathroom was off-limits until our jeans were ready! Once they were done, we wore them to school and everyone liked them so much that we started selling them, at a profit.

I am lucky that retail is in my blood. Both sides of my family were in retail, and I was a quick study when it came to understanding the nuances of business. I’m told at five years old I was asked how much a kilo to tomatoes cost, and my reply: “Do you want to buy it, or sell it?” My family tells me that as early as age five, I was employing supply and demand tactics!

Later, when I was in school in New York, I got an afterschool job working at United Colors of Benetton and I quickly realized I had a knack for retail – I could speak a few languages, and I was good at reading the customers and understanding what they wanted.

KG – WHY IS YOUR FOCUS ON WOMEN’S FASHION RATHER THAN MEN’S AND WHY NOT BOTH? DOES INTERMIX PLAN TO OFFER OPTIONS FOR MEN IN THE FUTURE?

KK – I realized there was a void in the women’s marketplace in terms of having fashionable clothing with accessible price points that felt luxe but modern. I wanted to be a pioneer in the women’s marketplace by starting a store with emerging designers and discoveries next to established designers’ must-haves. For now, I’ve been focused on women’s fashion, because that’s how I built INTERMIX, but that’s not to say I’m not open to being in the men’s business.

KG – HOW DO YOU DECIDE WHAT EACH SEASON’S ‘IT’ ITEMS ARE AND WHAT TO PURCHASE FOR INTERMIX?

KK – We’re always evaluating and forecasting trends. We take inspiration from the runway shows, street style, magazines, art, music, travel and we combine the creative side with data, and a little instinct… our buying team is very talented at balancing the next “it” style with of-the-moment must-haves to make our assortment exciting and relatable.

KG – HOW DOES THE BUYING PROCESS WORK? HOW OFTEN DO YOU ADD MORE BRANDS/DESIGNERS TO YOUR COLLECTION?

KK – In retail, you need to be different, and set yourself apart. We see the same runway shows that our competition sees, but we imagine telling a different story. Then we select merchandise and style it in a unique, unexpected way to tell a story with an INTERMIX twist. We’re always out in market and in meetings with vendors and designers. We love discovering what’s next, and our clients expect us to deliver it.  We are constantly adding and editing to our vendor list; we deliver new styles – and new vendors – weekly. This spring, we added about 80 new vendors.

KG -HOW DID YOU KNOW THAT GAP WOULD BE THE RIGHT FIT FOR THE INTERMIX BRAND AND IMAGE?

KK – There are a lot of parallels between our businesses: they were founded by an entrepreneurial team – Don and Doris Fisher – and became a family-run company, and I founded Intermix at 19 with my brother, Haro. Also, they’re the best in American sportswear and we’re the leading American women’s specialty multi-brander with a luxe sensibility. We appreciated their standard for excellence. Additionally, an American based company with a global platform felt right for our potential international growth, and because they already had distinct brands under their umbrella – all with unique identities – we felt confident we would not lose our essence. Our joint goal was not to change INTERMIX, but to take the best parts of INTERMIX and make them better.

KG -WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE TRENDS FROM INTERMIX FOR THIS SUMMER SEASON?

KK    –

  • All white looks – in different fabrications like white denim, silky trousers and crochets.
  • Athletic influences – cropped tops, bomber jackets and sweatshirts
  • Feminine accents – lace in rompers, cropped tops, skirts; floral prints; fluid trousers and easy dresses; blush tones and soft pastels