By Adisa Husejnovic
The creatively named non-profit LES amis has friends gathering in New York City’s Rockwood Music Hall with a shared desire to help the many homeless people of NYC. Founded by fashion designer Jemima Janney, LES amis is a non-profit fashion thrift store that works to eliminate waste from the fashion industry while raising money for local charities.
Janney, who has close ties to the music community as she recently married Ben Lovett of Mumford & Sons, explains the philosophy behind LES amis. “It’s a well known fact that everyone has clothes they don’t wear and LES amis has definitely proved the theory of ‘someone’s trash is someone else’s treasure!’” she says. “I realized that by collecting people’s unwanted but high-quality clothing, we could sell them at pop-up stores and donate the money to local charities.”
The thrift store is set up at Rockwood Music Hall prior to the NYC Communion Residency shows, and people can gain free entry to the gigs by making a purchase from LES amis and getting their hand stamped. The Communion Residency is a monthly, multi-genre showcase of emerging local and international talent in nine major US cities including New York, Nashville, Chicago and Washington DC. Recent NYC showcases have featured sets by Nick Mulvey, Sarah Jaffe, Arkells, Nothing but Thieves and Peter Matthew Bauer and have become a successful platform for new artists to perfect their craft and establish a community of loyal followers.
As carefully curated as the showcase itself, the thrift store has both new and vintage designer clothing and jewelry up for sale. Each item has a recommended price, but what people pay is up to them. Any clothing that is donated to LES amis and that’s unsuitable to sell is donated directly to The Bowery Mission.
This year, LES amis partnered with food rescue organization City Harvest. Founded in 1982, the non-profit helps feed more than 1.4 million New Yorkers facing hunger by collecting wasted food from restaurants and supermarkets and delivering it to more than 500 community programs. The organization now delivers some 136,000 pounds of food daily. Its Healthy Neighborhoods program also aims to increase the availability of affordable fruits and vegetables in low-income communities, as well as providing nutrition education. All proceeds from the past three LES amis events have been donated to City Harvest. A new charity will be selected for upcoming events.
The next LES amis/Communion event is set to take place September 9 at Rockwood Music Hall and will feature performances by CLARA-NOVA, Freedom Fry, Conrad Sewell, The Franklin Electric, Jae Jin, Mothers, The Tall Pines and Greg Holden.