Eco-Beauty: The Vegan Fashion Guide

Do you ever wonder what vegans do and don’t wear, and why? Have your environmental inklings made you curious about how to rock a more eco-friendly wardrobe? Does the thought of animals being farmed for their fur and skin make you squeamish?

Last month, I wrote about Skin Deep, a website and app that’s an invaluable tool for those looking to use less toxic, more eco-friendly beauty products. Now, I’d like to follow that up by sharing another useful resource: the newly released—and freeVegan Fashion Guide by Vegan Cuts. It makes sense that Vegan Cuts would offer up a fashion guide. The company exists, after all, to serve as a stepping-stone or kick start to the world of veganism, with things like vegan starter kits and beauty box subscriptions (which I reviewed here).

They joined forces with Ashlee Piper of The Little Foxes to produce this first vegan style e-booklet, which is part info guide (fabrics to avoid and why, etc.), part look book, and part shopping directory. Featured brands include The Penny Rose favorites Hipsters for Sisters (pictured) and Mata Traders. There’s room for improvement—I hope to see more impressive looks and photos and a more comprehensive shopping guide in future editions—but this inaugural document is handy and inspiring for longtime vegans and curious non-vegans, alike.

Photos courtesy of Hipsters for Sisters

Baggage Free: Meet Hipsters for Sisters

Beth Jones of  BJonesStyle blog wearing the Classic Saddle Belt Bag

From Always Judging, wearing the Leopard Flat Belt Bag

From The Fashion Sight, the Classic Cobalt Belt Bag.

If there is one thing on my wish list right now, it's a Hipsters for Sisters belt bag. The independent, Los Angeles-based, family-run company caught my eye when we mentioned them in a previous blog post. Recently, I was visiting with a fellow writer friend who revealed that she had her very own Hipsters for Sisters bag. I tried it on and was instantly wowed by the style quotient of these bags, as well as their practical nature. The motto of the company speaks volumes: "Our mission is to liberate women from their baggage." 

As women, we often carry around several bags at a time to haul all the things we think we need, but never use. In an effort to make 2014 an organized, pared down year, I'm going to add one of these bags to my daily outfits to make life simpler and more stylish. 

Interested in learning more about this brilliant brand, I tracked down the owner and founder, Debra Denniston, who launched Hipsters for Sisters in 2012, along with her two daughters. Below is a family photo of the women behind this line and an interview with Debra. 

Pictured here: Debra Denniston and her two daughters run Hipsters for Sisters.

How long has the company been around and how did it come to be? 

The idea of this company had been germinating inside my head for almost 15 years. I was working as a visual artist, but this idea kept distracting me, like an impatient child pleading to be taken to the park. As it grew more and more persistent, I eventually gave in, packed up my paints, took out my old Singer sewing machine and set out to create a socially acceptable fanny pack.

Who are the key players and what are each of you responsible for? 

We are a family run company. My daughter Rachel and I are partners. My other daughter, Kate, helps us when she can.

The division of labor is fluid. All three of us discuss design. I love having three opinions from three very different personalities. I think that is what helps make our designs so strong. In addition, I handle sourcing and production. Rachel handles our website, our social media and is our resident photographer. Kate is our model and stylist and she tends to come up with great ideas to help market our bags.

Your product is vastly original. When did you notice that there was a place for it in the marketplace? 

When I decided that I, personally, could no longer live without a socially acceptable fanny pack. I figured that if I wanted one that badly, other people might, too. When my daughters, who as kids used to make me hide my fanny packs from their friends, actually got behind the idea, I knew we were on to something.

What makes the Hipsters for Sisters bags so unique, in your opinion? 

We are the first and only company devoted solely to creating stylish, high-quality belt bags. Unlike other companies who have recently added a belt bag or two to their existing line of handbags, we don’t see this as a passing trend. We are on a mission to liberate women from the bulk and heft of the traditional handbag. It’s our purpose and our passion.

What is the difference between the Flats and the Classics lines of belt bags?

The Classics were our first design. I made the first bag on my home sewing machine and “test drove” it around town every day. Each time I wore it, I tweaked the design for better functionality and appearance. Finally, I took it to a sewing contractor who made a professional sample for us. We changed that sample twice more before the final design was approved for production. This is still my favorite bag, probably because I made it for me.

The Flats were our second design. Some customers requested a thinner,  “dressier” bag that could easily be worn around the waist of a dress or under a jacket. We designed the Flats with an adjustable chain that can be worn around the waist, the hips or even cross body. In addition, the chain can be removed so the bag can be worn with one’s own belt or alone as a clutch.

What's the best way to wear a Hipsters for Sisters belt bag?

I used to think that there was only one way to wear the Classic: low around the hips and off to one side. I’d say that’s how I wear mine 90 percent of the time. However, I have been pleasantly surprised by how I have seen people wear them. Some of my favorite surprises have been: Beth Jones of the fashion blog, B. Jones Style, wearing the Saddle Bag high around her waist with a pencil skirt, and Maria Von Losch, of Savvynista, styling it over a tweed blazer. Although I never thought to wear it over a winter coat, Tine Andrea of The Fashion Eaters showed me how great it looks.

You’re traveling, and can only bring one bag (a Hipster bag, of course!), what favorite beauty/fashion items do you pack?

When I travel, I wear a Classic around my hips and I bring a tote bag. I put my wallet, iPhone, boarding pass and lipstick in my belt bag. I put my iPad, water bottle, reading glasses, snacks, headphones, and thick, comfy socks in the tote. That’s it!

Mani or pedi? Pedi.

Lip gloss or lip balm? Lip balm!

Heels or flats? Flats.

Learn more about Hipsters for Sisters at