His younger sis may run top fashion blog The Man Repeller, but Haim Medine is making his own mark on the fashion industry with fine-jewelry line Khai Khai. Erin Cunningham reports.
Any avid Man Repeller follower has seen blogger Leandra Medine tweet or Instagram the mysterious @HandsomeHaim. Meet the man behind the handle, Haim (pronounced “hi-yam”), whose less than six-month-old high-end jewelry brand Khai Khai has already been picked up by London Jewelers, Bloomingdale’s, and Louis Boston.
Khai Khai launched in February 2013— the soon-to-be 27-year-old Medine considers WWD’s February 25 feature on the brand to be its “official” release date—at New York’s Upper East Side boutique Fivestory. “It’s a play on words from my Hebrew name, which is Chaim,” Medine told The Daily Beast, referring to his brand’s name, which was inspired by a childhood nickname coined by his mother, Laura. “She took the ‘ch,’ which I guess some people could pronounce as ‘khai.’ Now that people have started calling me Khai Khai again, I’m like, oh, that’s kind of a cool name.”
And cool is exactly what Medine achieves in his brand, through pieces like a diamond-encrusted hashtag ring or an 18-karat-gold flamingo necklace. Despite growing up in the business—his father owns jewelry line Mark Henry—Haim succeeds in breaking the traditional high-end-jewelry mold by delivering jewelry in a vast price range ($315 to $5,375), including blinged-out ampersands, @ symbols, and “hear no evil,” “see no evil,” and “speak no evil” monkeys.
“I try to go against what people consider the confines of jewelry design,” Medine said. “If you were to show some of these things to people in the industry who have been doing this for years, designing for Harry Winston or Tiffany’s, they would be like, what are you thinking? An ‘F you’ ring in 18-karat gold with diamonds or a fist emoticon in 18-karat gold and diamonds. They wouldn’t even understand that.”
As a young entrepreneur, Haim wants his pieces to feel youthful, while maintaining multiple co-existing dichotomies—playful yet sophisticated, edgy yet classic. But more important, Haim is following the creative path he has always imagined, “like a kid with aspirations,” as he describes it.
And while growing up in a fashion-savvy family may come with competition, there exists less of a rivalry and more of a support system and mutual appreciation in terms of siblings—especially between Haim and Leandra.
“I always tell my sister that if I was a girl, I would dress like her,” Medine says. “I think she’s got great style. A lot of the things I see in her closet, I wish there was a men’s version of. A lot of my designs are inspired by her. We’ll have brainstorming sessions and talk about different concepts and things that I could be doing. I’ll put it into the works, and she’ll wear it as soon as it’s ready.”
And while it may help that fashion-famous sis is there to lend a hand—and a face (Leandra has been shot for the brand’s images)—the talent behind Medine’s jewelry shines even more brightly and is clearly supported by sales to large outlets like Bloomingdale’s and Japan’s Ron Herman.
“When you wear the jewelry, you’re supposed to feel young at heart,” Medine said. “Khai Khai at the end of the day is a moniker that portrays and projects the youth that’s in all of us. It’s in my brand’s DNA.”