[non-essential] Returns For A Second Collection

[non-essential] Returns For A Second Collection

[non-essential] Returns For A Second Collection

Philanthropic models RJ King and Charlie Knepper speak to VMAN’s Kevin Ponce about the meaning behind the colorful new pieces and the long-term goal for the food-giving organization.

Philanthropic models RJ King and Charlie Knepper speak to VMAN’s Kevin Ponce about the meaning behind the colorful new pieces and the long-term goal for the food-giving organization.

Text: Kevin Ponce

It has been one year since RJ King and Charlie Knepper first announced their new company titled [non-essential] and came out with a line of monochromatic baseball caps (a classic staple in NYC). All the funds raised from the hats went straight to helping feed frontline workers, with meals that were delivered from The Village Den by the models themselves. Now that COVID vaccines are in and the pandemic is seemingly controlled, for the most part, King and Knepper decided to shift the focus for the second drop for their own community. 

Charlie Knepper & RJ King wear [non-essential]

Kevin Ponce: Tell us about this next installment for [non-essential]—why did you decide to bring it back for a second round?

RJ King: We restarted [non-essential] because we didn’t want to stop giving back. We had such a good thing going with our initial fundraiser and wanted to continue efforts on a larger scale. Now, instead of being a fundraiser, we are launching as a non-profit and are here to stay. We are still providing meals, but this time to our LGBTQIA+ homeless and at-risk youth.

Photography by Jean-Claude Billmaier | Styling by Kevin Breen

KP: What is the collection comprised of and what was your inspiration being the aesthetic of it?

Charlie Knepper: The collection is launching with three simple products: a bucket hat, hoodie, and tee shirt. We used a very light pastel color palette to signify happiness and that we are on the way out of a dark time!

Photography by Jean-Claude Billmaier | Styling by Kevin Breen

KP: For this collection, the proceeds will be going to New Alternatives—how did you decide on NA as the chosen organization for this collection? Was it hard to only select one organization to provide meals/funds to?

CK: When we decided that we were relaunching, we knew that we wanted to help out our LGBTQIA+ community. After a long and hard internet deep dive, we found out that 40% of homeless youth are LGBTQ+. (Less 8% of children classified as LGBTQ+ in America). This is largely because of family rejection and societal discrimination.

RJK: New Alternatives seemed like the perfect institution to benefit from our funds from this collection. They’re an organization that provides a safe space to children who have been neglected by the very people who are supposed to love them.

Photography by Jean-Claude Billmaier | Styling by Kevin Breen

KP: Where do you hope [non-essential] will be in the next 5/10 years? What do you see it doing in the long run?

CK: In the long run, we want to have our own shelters. There are queer children who are left at the curb every day by their families and communities. Our aim is to make sure that those children always have a meal to eat, a place to sleep, and a community to lean on.

Charlie Knepper & RJ King wear [non-essential]
Credits:

Photographer: Jean-Claude Billmaier

Styling: Kevin Breen

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