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Behind the runway: INTERMIX’s Barbie Cavaleri Levin

Design, PeopleTighe Flatley, Gap Inc. bloggerComment

For every model or designer gliding down a New York Fashion Week runway, there's an entire team of invisible talent hustling to guarantee the look strikes a chord with editors, influencers, the fashion elite — and those doing the shopping.

As New York Fashion Week approaches, meet one of the people who brings life to the product, and whose fingerprints will mold the styles and trends you'll covet in seasons to come.

Name: Barbie Cavaleri Levin

Job Title: Senior Associate Buyer: Ready to Wear, INTERMIX

What that job means for New York Fashion Week: Barbie dashes from presentation to show to studio throughout New York City, accessing as many looks as she can in seven days, to identify and buy the products that Intermix customers covet for their wardrobe.

The themes that emerge from Fashion Week direct so many of your buying decisions. How are you identifying these themes, and making sure that the products Intermix offers line up to those?

Before our shows and appointments, we work hand-in-hand with our fashion director who is at New York Fashion Week, and at Paris Fashion Week. She's feeling out and identifying the spearheading trends, and making sure that we are considering those when attending the shows and planning our buys.

We may not represent every single trend for that season, though. We need to make sure it works for us. We aren't just going to do a trend to do a trend. It has to register with our company and with our core customer.

When you attend the shows, what are you looking for to make sure you're speaking to the Intermix customer?

Our customer is all about femininity — she wants something that she can feel good in, feel powerful in. She loves color, lace, vibrant prints. We're looking for products that capture the emotions of the women who come through the doors of all 43 of our stores. What Intermix is known for is interpreting the trends of the season in the most wearable way. Our customer loves feminine styles that flatter her body and grab her emotionally, but also nail the trends of the season.

We can't just pull a style off of the runway and say, "Everyone is going to wear this." Often times we're buying select pieces from a collection. Or, we're collaborating with the brands to develop exclusive styles, based on inspiration from their collection, that someone can get only at Intermix.

How do you translate some of the more couture looks of a Paris Fashion Week, or other New York Fashion Week trends, to your product buying decisions?

It depends on the designer I'm seeing. With the French designers, I usually get drawn to one detail — lace, or a beautiful print. We identify those key details and work with the brand on exclusive development. We'll say, "We love that jacket, but want in it a different color," because we know that's what our customer wants. We're very careful of not copying a piece, but interpreting the trend in the Intermix way that benefits both the brand and the business.

What's your dream state when it comes to Fashion Week?

The perfect part of Fashion Week is actually months later, when you see these styles hit the market. You see the looks in the store. You see them merchandised back to everything else, from sportswear to shoes and handbags. You see the high sell-throughs.

Walking into the store at the first drop of the season is so exciting. The products are almost like your babies, and then they're born in a few months. That's what's most exciting to me.

Read more about the talent behind the runway, like Banana Republic stylist Micah Johnson.