LeMond Hart was 12 years old when he walked into his home in west Charlotte to find his mom in a pool of blood, stabbed to death by an intruder. “It rained that day,” he says, “so sometimes when I smell rain it takes me straight back to that. I remember everything.”
LeMond went to live with his grandmother who enrolled the understandably withdrawn child in marching band in an attempt to reclaim an innocence lost in witnessing so horrific an act at such a young age. He was assigned the trombone but wasn’t very good and spent most of his time just sitting in the back not playing at all. Of far greater interest to him than the music was the way his band teacher dressed.
“He was always dressed really well, looked really sharp,” he said.
His grandmother lived on a fixed income so while LeMond’s interest in fashion grew, he resigned himself to the fact that not everything was within his reach. “I knew exactly where I stood,” he said, “but I used to tell myself that one day I’d have all the clothes I ever wanted.”
Today a portrait of LeMond’s mother hangs on a central beam overlooking his second-hand men’s boutique The House of LeMond packed wall to wall with clothes, a lifelong dream realized.
“Not too long ago I just stood in here and cried,” he said. “Because look at it; I have all the clothes I could have ever asked for.”
LeMond has been running The House of LeMond at Area 15, an eclectic micro business incubator in Noda home to artists and entrepreneurs like himself, for about two years now. His motto is “stay dapper, my friends” and he curates the inventory necessary for his clients to do so.
Rather than procure his second-hand inventory from resale shops and then foot the bill for dry cleaning, LeMond goes straight to the source collecting surrendered clothes from dry cleaners in affluent neighborhoods where he’ll find higher end labels.
“The dry cleaners do everything they can to contact the owner but if an item isn’t picked up in 60 days it’s surrendered and I can buy it at a bulk discount, already pressed and ready to sell,” he explained. He recently spent $5 on an abandoned Ralph Lauren suit that sold for $100.
LeMond says fashion is his ministry and that it’s about more than just selling clothes; he wants to teach young men to dress themselves to face the world with confidence. He offers personal styling tips as well as instruction on basic fashion etiquette, like tying a bow tie.
“In the African-American community we use the phrase ‘pull your pants up’ to tell young men to dress appropriately but then no one tells them exactly what that means. If you grew up with your dad working a blue collar job, who taught you how to tie a bow tie?” he asks.
In addition to running his boutique, LeMond is a model (he’s walked in NYC and Miami), designer, photographer and personal stylist but he always makes time to give back to his community. He donates proceeds from his coffee sales (yes, there’s a coffee bar in the boutique) to feed the homeless and also donates inventory to The Free Store next door to help outfit disadvantaged men for job interviews.
His neighbor at Area 15, a tattoo artist, is moving in to share shop space and they plan to offer a combined experience where you drop in for anything from a cup of coffee to fashion advice or a full sleeve tattoo. It’s the definition of a man cave but more refined.
LeMond has big visions for his boutique but wants to keep it intimate. As far as competition, he’s got his eye on everyone. “As far as I’m concerned I’m competing with Tom Ford. I’m competing with Banana Republic,” he said proudly. “Why shouldn’t I?”
Cheers to that, and stay dapper, my friend.
Connect with The House of LeMond