Shrimps, setting the fashion faux fur world on fire
Shrimps is the clever, colourful, new kid on the block. It's so fluffy, I'm gonna die! IT'S SO FLUFFY!
Photography Oliver Hadlee Pearch
Shrimps, real name Hannah Weiland, is effortlessly cool, colourful and an exciting talent to look out for. Her bold and bright faux-fur coats have already caught the eyes of many a fashionista and are brightening up the streets of London. The witty designer and her designs are one of the hot picks of young London talent! We catch up to talk black humour, colourful coats and the faux fur industry.
So you work with faux fur - is this an intentional moral stance? What are your thoughts on fur?
I never wear real fur, but I'm not actively against it. I would never chuck paint at people. But then I would never work with fur either, as then that would very much be my fault. I actually much prefer faux fur as a material, especially after I found a faux fur which is really amazing. Why would you ever want real fur? So ultimately, I would never work in it but I'm not going to preach against it.
What do you think about all of this animal activism that goes on today?
I don't watch the videos. One I'm really angry about is angora - I don't wear it because I'm allergic to it, but those poor little bunnies, I couldn't watch that. It's interesting because where we are today, so many people are asking me why am I working with faux fur when there is so much real fur around. I actually think it's the opposite - so many stores I'm talking to are stopping stocking real fur and so many magazines, like i-D, don't shoot real fur. It's definitely an interesting time to be working with faux fur.
Did you always want to work with fur?
No, I think it was more that I sourced this amazing faux fur! I felt like there was a niche for it and this kind of movement for such a branch. I really love the material, it holds the dye really well. But I am going to branch out and use different materials too. For my next collection, I am using a bit of mohair too.
What made you want to design coats specifically?
Because it started with the faux fur, obviously coats and outerwear are the first ones to be made as other clothes pieces in faux fur are very difficult to make. But what's amazing about outerwear, is that it has made my customer range so varied; my nanna who is 90 has one and then there 19 year old girls that wear Shrimps too. People with very different styles wear Shrimps as there is a variety of colours to suit a variety of tastes. You can choose from classic and colourful.
This is a bit of an obvious question - but do you love colour?
Yeah, so much! Do you?
Cannot get enough. Is colour one of your main inspirations?
Yes, definitely. Lots of people say to me I should do black or grey and I'm like 'oooh, I don't really want to' - even though I know more muted colours do really well. I'm working with a really beautiful navy for next season and I much prefer it to black. I always think about colour combinations, even when working with black. But even when I move onto other materials I will keep my colourful aesthetic.
We all need a bit of colour in life! Grayson Perry is colourful, I read that he is a big inspiration for you?
Yes, he is! When he goes all out as Claire, he dresses up but on a regular day he just wears his jeans. But the tapestries he does, they're full of colour and they're stunning. I wrote my dissertation on him. I analysed the dresses he wore and they have penises, bows and cherries on them. It's all very dark, but also really pretty.
You should make a coat and send one to Grayson Perry!
I know, I made a bag and sent it to him but he hasn't replied yet... I'd love to send him a coat. I would love to get a picture of him wearing a Shrimps coat. He's quite hard to get hold of though.
His style is full of black humour, isn't it? is humour important to your collections?
Yeah, definitely and that's what I love about British fashion. I want to play on that more. Humour is all around and I definitely don't take anything too seriously.
Are you inspired by London and British Fashion?
Yes, London has always been my favourite fashion city. The shows are always so much more colourful, like Meadham Kirchoff, Simone Rocha etc. In London, you can be a bit more crazy. My favourite part of the city is Soho, I love the atmosphere and the restaurants, it's always busy but it's not as extreme as New York.
What made you want to get into fashion?
I always wanted to get into fashion. When I was 15, I worked for Betty Jackson, my mum made me do it and I loved it! I nearly went to fashion school but studied History of Art and then went to fashion school and halfway through LCF, I did this on the side as a little project and it started off really small and I went from there.
So art is a big factor for you?
I collect from many different projects and references, but I always come back to art. I love collage and I would say art is my main inspiration. Having studied Art History definitely helped. When you study it, you see a completely different side to it. After that, I studied Surface Textile Design with embroidery and print, which was textile. I love print and I'm going to experiment with a variety of prints.
The gap between fashion and art is getting even smaller now.
So much, and I think it's great!
Are you excited for fashion week?
Yes, I really am. My brother is a director and he is making a film ready for fashion week. We were going to do a presentation, but it's too risky to do for a first collection.
Being a young designer yourself, do you think it's more challenging to present?
People here in London seem to love it, the younger you are. There are so many good organisations such as Newgen and Fashion East, in England people are very supportive of young talent. But then, for anyone starting out it is still really hard. The pressure for young designers to do well on a small budget is big. I wasn't going to do spring/summer, but I've done a collection exclusively with Net-A-Porter and funnily enough, mainly for England and not somewhere more freezing!
Maybe there are no seasons anyway when it comes to colour and faux fur?
Haha. The best Shrimps weather is like the weather today, cold and sunny and not a hint of rain. Beautifully crisp! The nicest kind of day.
So where does the name Shrimps actually come from?
It was a nickname and then we began doodling and it all came together. I didn't really want to use my own name. I love how surreal it is, it reminds me of a surreal artist, like Dali who liked lobsters. It's such a good contrast to the fluffiness of the faux fur. And I love pink! When I chose it, I wasn't thinking ahead, but now I'm really happy with it.
Text Bojana Kozarevic
Photography Oliver Hadlee Pearch