This season, socialist-about-town Yvonne Niami makes philanthropy absolutely fashionable.
When it comes to giving back, people often stop at good intentions. But Yvonne Niami, the founder of LA’s altruistic womenswear brand n:Philanthropy, has always been about action. “I just have a generous heart—I was born and raised with it,” says the 36-year-old Los Angeles native and mother of two boys, whose Mexican-born parents took the family on annual trips to a Tijuana orphanage to donate clothes and toys. A decade ago, she got involved with pediatric cancer causes via a friend who’s a nurse at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. Says Niami, “Once you go and see the kids and what they and their families aregoing through, you’ve got to do something.”
Indeed, though she’s always worked hands-on with the organizations she’s passionate about—SPCALA is another, since before she had children, her dogs were her “kids”—Niami is truly “doing something” with her new fashion label. Conceived in January 2014 and launched in 2015, and now in its second collection, the brand not only raises awareness but gives back by donating 10 percent of sales to Children’s Hospital, SPCALA, and CAST (Coalition Against Sex Trafficking). Total 2015 giving by the company in the first four months following its launch totaled $215,000. “The lining of our pants says, ‘BTW—you just helped a child and animal in need—good work!’” says Niami. “We have a bit of a sense of humor, because giving to the causes we do is pretty heavy. You need to balance it out.”
“The lining of our pants says 'btw - you just helped a child and animal in need. Good work!’”—Yvonne Niami
Those covetable “clothes with a conscience” have caught the eye of LA celebs like Katie Holmes, Patricia Arquette, and Nikki Reed. With the help of French-born designer Alex Caugant (he’s a veteran of denim houses AG and Big Star), they’ve melded a Parisian sensibility with LA’s easy, sporty-chic vibe. The rock ’n’ roll–imbued fall collection, which can be found in Neiman Marcus later this month, comprises not only cool, LA-crafted denim, cashmere-infused boyfriend tees made in Portugal, graphic sweaters, and colorful faux furs, but cruelty-free, washable leather, sourced in France and sewn into moto jackets and fringed midiskirts in India.
Looking forward, the duo is already working on men’s denim... and thinking big. “Because we do give back, we need to make money to give to the causes we’re so passionate about,” says Niami. “We don’t want to stay this little LA brand—we want to grow to a stratospheric level.”
Available at Neiman Marcus (starting July 30), 9700 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills, 310-550-5900