Intermix Makes Rittenhouse Debut
by loren yandoc
Khajak Keledjian has a lot on his mind. This in itself is quite unremarkable for a businessman about to embark on a new venture. But unlike many other entrepreneurs, Keledjian, the CEO and cofounder of Intermix, is a pro when it comes to coordinating a store opening, having successfully done it more than 30 times since the age of 19—and his latest is right here in the heart of Philadelphia.
Perhaps that is why he appears relatively at ease deliberating on all the factors involved. “It’s a complex business model: You have more than 150 vendors, you have to select the best items in the right colors, from the right designers, at the right time, in the right market, in the right size, in the right location within that market,” he says.
Philadelphia’s first outpost will be the brand’s 27th, joining New York, Los Angeles, Boston, Miami, and Chicago on the company’s roster of cities. A 2,500-square-foot space appropriately nestled on Walnut Street, it is defined by the Intermix blueprint—a modern, cool aesthetic. The interior also takes on a streamlined industrial feel, with metal ceiling trusses, brushed-steel fixtures, leather tabletops, and furnishings coated in gray tones.
No doubt Keledjian’s air of calm when we spoke can also be attributed to his most recent sojourn. This was not, however, a typical retreat; there were no recreational hiking or horseback-riding excursions, no rejuvenating massages or facials, no yoga or Pilates classes. “It was a 10-day silent retreat. You cannot talk. And you meditate for 11 hours a day,” Keledjian, 39, explains. “They teach you a technique that is the original practice of the Buddha. It’s called vipassana. They teach you the way to take in your breath, and your senses open up.”
In today’s digital-media-saturated world, engaging in just one day of complete quietude would be next to impossible for smartphone-toting professionals. But Keledjian is capable of just about anything he puts his mind to—even if it is clearing and quieting it over a substantial period of time. “It’s a good balance, that against this lifestyle.”
Keledjian first moved to New York from Beirut in 1987, and as a high school student began working at Benetton. At New York University he decided to major in finance, at the same time continuing to build his retail résumé as a sales associate at Botticelli Shoes. It did not take the company long to recognize Keledjian’s keen eye for all things fashionable: They promoted him to a buyer position that landed the teenager a management role responsible for overseeing three Botticelli locations.
Keledjian soon realized there was an opportunity in the New York fashion market for something truly groundbreaking. In the early 1990s, shops fell into one of two main categories: the single-label boutique, such as Prada, and the mega-size department store. So in 1993, along with his older brother Haro, Keledjian opened the first Intermix in New York’s Flatiron District. It offered a diverse yet carefully edited assortment of high-end labels and contemporary brands. “Our stores have a platform of many designers; the established brands and the emerging brands come together,” he says. “You have Helmut Lang mixed with J Brand shorts.” It is in this makeup that Intermix encourages its customers to become their own stylists, grouping merchandise within trends and together as looks, rather than organizing according to designers and labels.
“Intermix has a distinctive point of view, combining casual, classic items such as great tees along with unique, on-trend pieces from some of the most well-known designers and brands,” says Philadelphia-based celebrity stylist and fashion correspondent Jen Abrams. “It is a one-stop shop, the perfect blend of both classic and emerging designers, sophisticated and edgy pieces.”
More than 130 lines will be carried at the Rittenhouse store, including Rag & Bone, Diane von Furstenberg, Equipment, Hervé Léger, Alexis Bittar, Sergio Rossi, and Mulberry. “I am so thrilled Intermix is coming to the City of Brotherly Love because it will fill a void of a retailer that appeals to a variety of women with a range of budgets,” says Abrams.
As with all of Intermix’s stores, the Rittenhouse Square location will feature only women’s clothing and accessories, and Keledjian admits that he and his brother want to keep that as the brand’s focus. “The truth is, women have been keeping us busy with their needs.” 1718 Walnut St., 855-446-4943
photography by eric ryan anderson; GETTY IMAGES (LOPEZ, RIHANNA)