How Shrimps Designer and Founder Hannah Weiland Pioneered the Faux-Fur Movement

In today’s flash-in-the-pan-prone insta-landscape, few young brands have made such a lasting impact as Shrimps, a British label that launched an industry-wide shift towards faux fur with a single coat back in 2013. The plush technicolour topper was the creation of Hannah Weiland, a freshly minted textile design graduate of the London College of Fashion who had spent her studies fantasizing about fluffy Breton stripes. “When I came across a factory making amazing quality faux fur, I was very excited,” says the designer. “I had never seen a quality like it before.” The coat, which Weiland made in several vibrant colour combos, quickly landed on the backs of Brit fashion royals like Alexa Chung and Poppy Delevingne. And the rest, they say, is history.

Since that auspicious start, Shrimps has evolved into ready-to-wear and accessories, both faux-fur and otherwise—“I just design and make things that I really want to wear myself and it’s amazing to see that other women really want to wear them too,” says the designer.

Meanwhile, the faux movement has picked up such momentum that brands like Burberry and Gucci have vowed to go fur-free. “It’s exciting to think that Shrimps was the catalyst for this popularity,” says Weiland. “I would love to see the fashion world go completely fur-free in the next decade, and I would feel proud knowing Shrimps played a part in starting this.”

Weiland describes the Shrimps girl as an admirer of the arts, something she took to heart with the creation of her Fall 2018 collection, a nod to famed writer and art patron Gertrude Stein. Stein is credited with fostering the careers of artists such as Picasso, but it was her romantic texts that first inspired Weiland. To whit, “a shrimp is a shrimp is a shrimp”—a nod to Stein’s most famous quote, “a rose is a rose is a rose”—is featured prominently across dresses, tops and organza ribbons in the collection.

It seems fitting that romanticism would inspire Weiland, who wed her long-time beau, Arthur Guinness—of brewing family fame—this past summer in a Victorian, silk-georgette embroidered gown she designed herself.

Fall’s ruffled, floor-length opera coats feel like a perfect match for nuptials, though their saturated, vibrant cyan and crimson hues keep them in line with the brand’s quirky DNA. Through the years, Weiland’s penchant for off-kilter proportions has taken form in those oversized furs and boxy, clever bags designed to wear alongside.

“When I was born I was small and pink like a shrimp, so it became my nickname,” says Weiland. “When I first started, and I was trying to think of what to call [the line], I liked the idea of this surreal contrast between a crustacean and a fluffy faux-fur coat.”

As Shrimps evolves and grows, faux-fur’s sustainability remains central to Weiland’s vision. “We are continually working with factories to develop technologies for new materials to improve any impact on the environment,” she says. “Our aim is also to make covetable, high-quality products that last and will avoid disposal and waste. I still wear my Shrimps coats that I designed over five years ago, and they are still the same quality and do truly stand the test of time.”

Shrimps Fall/Winter 2018: photo courtesy of Shrimp