As part of the VeganZine team, I want to contribute to all of our topic sectors: Food, Lifestyle, Beauty, Fashion, News, Events, Support Local, etc. But up until now, I haven’t been able to find any local content on an important subject – Fashion. For the past few months, I’ve been searching for a vegan and/or sustainable clothing or fashion brand based in New England to feature, but there are not many.
However, then I came across a press release and I got very excited. Who knew a press release could get me giddy? But this one had wonderful news. VEGAN Happy Clothing, a UK brand, has expanded to the United States by way of Boston! Not only are they filling a major consumer gap, the fact that Boston is their US homebase gives the VeganZine the perfect opportunity to feature a company I believe in and support.
And so, I reached out to their lovely founder, Lorri Delahunty, and asked for an interview. She not only agreed, but she kindly sent me two items to try so that I can review them and tell you all what I think! I hope after reading this article you’ll be as excited about this as I am!
About VEGAN Happy Clothing
But before I delve into all that I learned from Lorri about coming to Boston, I first want to introduce you to the brand. VEGAN Happy Clothing offers a wide-range of affordable vegan clothing that is accessible to a wide range of people no matter their gender, size, age, or price range. All of the pieces feature a subtle VEGAN Happy logo that aims to spark conversation without being ostentatious. They also donate 10% or more of their net profits to animal rescues or charities.
Image Credit: @Lorridelahunty
The company was started after Lorri’s beagle, Poppy, had an accident and while coping with the event when preparing a chicken dinner, Lorri recognized her previous disconnect with animal suffering. From that emotional connection, veganism “happened to her” and over time, Lorri’s family has become a 100% vegan household. But Lorri wanted to do more. As she delved further into the research and vegan activism, she wanted to tell everyone what she learned. However, she wanted to achieve this in a subtle way, so that when people learned she was vegan, it would be a pleasant surprise. And so, she decided to start a vegan clothing company; one that was founded on helping the animals.
For Lorri and VEGAN Happy Clothing, it’s all about the animals. They donate most of their profits to animal charities and presently, Lorri herself hasn’t turned a profit personally. Instead, the company donates to multiple charities, starting with Camp Beagle and expanding to include Angel Heart Rescue in Kansas City, Mockingbird Farm in New York, and Sanctuary at Soledad in Florida. Most recently they donated over £1,000 to Camp Beagle. A bit on the charities: Camp Beagle protests animal testing at MBR Acres in the UK. Mockingbird Farm is an animal sanctuary in New York. Angel Heart Rescue supports unhoused people’s animals in Kansas City. The Sanctuary at Soledad is an animal sanctuary now located in Mayo, Florida.
Image credit: @veganhappyclothing
With the expansion to the US, Lorri hopes that they can find more groups to support. Typically, the company waits until they see a plea for help, initiating the cause to come on their radar. With the pandemic, the VEGAN Happy team hasn’t had the chance to tour US sanctuaries and charities, but it is one of the first items on their post-pandemic bucket list.
But along with the main priority of the animals, Lorri has integrated the human aspect into VEGAN Happy Clothing. She acknowledges and considers the farmers within her “farm country” community and has conversed with them at her local pubs. She has informed farmers who find animal husbandry not sitting well with them about resources to change their agricultural products. In the UK this includes help from local councils and a government task force set up to help farmers transition. You can learn more at the Department of Environment’s Food and Rural Affairs Path to Sustainable Farming 2021-2024 plan and this succinct article.
Another major consideration to reduce suffering, both animal and human, is VEGAN Happy Clothing’s dedication to vetting their suppliers. Presently, they don’t have the infrastructure (yet!) to manufacture their own base clothing, but they heavily focus on due diligence to find ethically sourced products. They consider: labor/workers’ rights; sustainability and eco practices (like recycled polyester); carbon footprint; female-run businesses; and 100% animal free items. They’re taking a page from Lucy & Yak, who lists their ethical suppliers. These intersectional considerations and transparency are important fundamental aspects of their business values.
And in the same vein of their awareness of their total impact on the world, they also use their platform to integrate diversity and inclusivity into all aspects of their business activities. Looking at their webpage and social media, you’ll see all sizes, genders, ethnicities, and ages. While they mainly have to rely on external photos, they work directly with @nahlu__ and Lorri aims to diversify the age range of her models to incorporate people in their 70s and 80s.
USA customer Laura Ismail. Image Credit: @veganhappyclothing
With all of these moral and corporate ethics in mind, I want to turn to VEGAN Happy Clothing’s ethos and how it reflects on their clothing. VEGAN Happy is all about sparking a conversation by way of its logo and making space for all vegans, including those who may or may not dedicate themselves to going out and protesting. Calling themselves “vegan evangelists,” the company wants to encourage and help everyone in a nurturing manner that respects any small step towards reducing suffering. It’s important to Lorri to salute and applaud any effort because it begins to open people’s eyes to a whole new world and she acknowledges that it’s not as easy for some people, due to a myriad of outside factors. Even though it’s not as massive a step as some people assume, Lorri believes it’s important to support everyone and be inclusive. Lorri not only talks the talk, but also walks the walk. Her two main employees aren’t vegan “yet”.
VEGAN Happy Clothing Comes to Boston
So why the USA/Boston and why now? The pandemic has caused so much financial strain on legacy/traditional businesses, with so many closing or reducing hours/services. But I don’t know about you, but I’ve noticed that companies with vegan-driven missions are comparably flourishing. So many new vegan companies have emerged over the last two years. Maybe they’re more suited to succeed in our modern economy. Maybe it’s the fact that people are conscious about the ethics and vision of the brands they support. For VEGAN Happy Clothing, it also helps that people are shopping online more.
Vegan Men’s Triblend T-Shirt, USA. Image credit: @veganhappyclothing
Over the last year, VEGAN Happy Clothing has seen an influx of funds (particularly around the holiday season), so they have the extra capital to invest in expansion. America seemed like the best place to start. And Boston/Massachusetts was particularly attractive because Lorri’s son, @mylesdelahunty, lives in Salem, MA with his wife. After COVID numbers reduce and restrictions lift, Lorri hopes to make many business trips that will allow her to visit her family as well. Boston turned out to be the perfect homebase for VEGAN Happy Clothing’s USA venture since they could get an address in Liberty Square and they’ve been able to find local suppliers, including some in Somerville and Hingham. It’s important for them to source the best USA partners.
Image credit: @lorridelahunty
Initially, the intent was to replicate the business model here but they’ve come to realize that with America being so large, they have to adapt to its regional vegan communities. The USA doesn’t have a consolidated national vegan marketplace, like the UK has with Crazy Bean. While Lorri hopes that her friends at Crazy Bean will go global someday, she’s also considering how to pivot her approach. Nonetheless, the resilience of people during this pandemic has been amazing, and VEGAN Happy Clothing is no exception. I’m confident that they will flourish here.
Vegan Women’s Curvy Jersey V-Neck Tee, USA. Image credits: @veganhappyclothing
Currently, the American collection has the logo exclusively on the breast, but soon there will be pieces with the logo on cuffs, sleeves, etc. as with the UK collection. And trust me, you’re going to want to try their items. Since receiving my two pieces (a shirt and a sweatshirt), I’ve worn them most days. Seriously, I live in them. The t-shirt (sourced from Next Level Apparel) is so soft and it has a really flattering fit. Plus, I’m proud to sport a logo where all of the embroidery is animal-thread free and any printing uses vegan friendly inks. The fabric is a bit thin though, so you may want to go for a darker color. And the sweater is perfect for this transitional weather!
Vegan Women’s Lightweight California Wave Wash Hoodie, color Sage & Vegan Women’s Vintage Jersey Keepsake Tee, color Vintage Navy. Image credit: @catswithspoons
In our interview, Lorri said something that resonated deeply with me. To paraphrase, everyone has been impacted and devastated in so many ways by the pandemic. But it is so encouraging to see the resilience of people and it is amazing how they aren’t being brought down by the difficulties of their circumstances. I don’t think she realizes how true her statement reflects back onto her and her company. VEGAN Happy Clothing is surpassing all my expectations of a new company breaking out into a new market. I’m thrilled that they’ve chosen Boston to call home. Welcome to the neighborhood, we hope you stay a while!
Me in Vegan Women’s Lightweight California Wave Wash Hoodie, color Sage.
Image credit: @catswithspoons
[Disclaimer: Items in this post were gifted. Opinions expressed are solely my own and do not express the views or opinions of the company.]