Getting To Know: Bijan Shahvali – Intramural Shop

Getting To Know: Bijan Shahvali - Intramural Shop HIP
Photo by Luis Garcia

During the first lockdown of 2020 in New York, Bijan Shahvali was quietly busy building up momentum online with his own emporium of selected lifestyle goods under the brand name Intramural – originally ideal for coping with lockdown and now even better for those looking to seek the thrill of IRL shopping for handpicked one-off goods.

Head down into the now bustling reopened area of the Lower East Side in NYC and you’ll find the streets filled with stores, restaurants and cafes full of eager New Yorkers back exploring their city. Situated on the buzzing Hester Street, Bijan teamed up with YOBS Sport to form Leisure Centre back in March, a physical, real-life location to showcase an ever-rotating selection. Jam-packed with a unique selection of vintage apparel, books, mugs, ashtrays and other collectibles, the Leisure Centre was so popular the original 3 month pop-up has been turned into a permanent space here to stay.

We caught up with Bijan to discuss starting Intramural, sourcing on the go, his favourite brands and more.

Explain Intramural shop – how did you start the brand/project and what were your initial plans? Can you describe the intentions of the store in one line?

Intramural started as a sort of exploration into the effect of nostalgia on style and home decor. When I started this project, I felt that emotion/nostalgia was lacking from the vintage homeware and objects space. Rarity and trend aren’t the only factors – the strong emotions and nostalgia these pieces conjure up also add tremendous value. So, the initial plan was to find and sell items that I thought honored this idea, and hope that they resonated with other people. My goal over time is to continue developing a distinct perspective around the vintage I source and use that to create new homeware/objects that taps into the same nostalgia/cultural references.

Getting To Know: Bijan Shahvali - Intramural Shop HIP

How do you usually go about sourcing goods? And has this changed due to COVID-19 in the last year?

This is a tough question to answer. Not because I am trying to hide my sourcing secrets or anything like that, but rather all the codes are already out there. It just comes down to putting in the time and getting out there. COVID-19 definitely changed all that – obviously keeping with social distancing and the latest safety recommendations, but also I found myself being a little more selective in my sourcing trips. I also felt like I had to be quicker while digging.

Your shop combines homeware and vintage, which are both having a huge rise in popularity, alongside the ‘limited/rare’ nature of these, why do you think this is?

This past year, everyone has been spending more time at home and have become more intimate with their space than ever before. I think from that comes a desire to make the space feel more personal. My hope is for the items on Intramural to tap into someone’s personal story and nostalgia. 

Which brands do you have your eye on? New and vintage?

Adsum is consistently putting out top notch designs and the presentation is always on point. Book Works is super cool. Mister Green. Total Luxury Spa. I love everything Better is doing. Barena. Pentimento. Small Talk Studio. Brain Dead continues to blow my mind with the ever-expanding universe they are creating. I am loving the collaborations Reebok has going on. Stussy is on an absolute tear right now. Supreme is my favorite brand ever, so I will always check for them. Can’t forget Noah. I discovered Australian brand MAN-TLE at C’H’C’M’ in New York recently that is absolutely incredible in terms of materials, craftsmanship, and attention to detail – it’s also a good example of why physical retail is so important, some product you just have to experience in person to really get it.

In terms of vintage, I can never say no to a good museum/art gallery shirt. I am always looking for Herman Miller promotional items and employee gifts – they have a similar cheeky, collectable quality to the accessories that Supreme does, but like the furniture/design version. My next home purchase is the Kartell Giotto Stoppino magazine rack in chocolate brown – I don’t know why but something about molded brown plastic is really speaking to me at the moment.

Getting To Know: Bijan Shahvali - Intramural Shop HIP

What’s your most recent personal pickup you’d never get rid of?

I recently picked up a MOCA (Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles) tee that I have been after for a minute. It’s a size too big, but I couldn’t pass it up. Until I find another in my size I won’t ever get rid of it. I grew up in Los Angeles and live in New York now, so I am always after things that remind me of home. 

What’s next?

Me and my man Frank (@yobs_sport) recently opened a retail space on Hester called Leisure Centre (@leisure__centre). It’s a mix of vintage objects and clothing picked by us, as well as bringing in other sellers/designers for pop-ups to keep the selection fresh and offer different perspectives on vintage to our customers. It started as a 3 month pop-up, but we actually just extended our lease! It has been an incredible experience being able to meet customers and have conversations around the products in the shop. I’m very grateful to continue to be able to have the shop and the connections we make with people who come in.

Follow Bijan and Intramural here.

Getting To Know: Bijan Shahvali - Intramural Shop HIP