Hannah Shrimps: Faux Fur Fabulous
Shrimps is the brand making fashion fluffier. For over 5 years, the label has gained a loyal following hooked-on their brightly-colored furs and retro-inspired clothing. At its helm is Hannah Weiland, the designer who started Shrimps on the back of one fur coat and nurtured its growth to full seasonal collections with the help of celebrity ambassadors Beyoncé, Laura Bailey and Alexa Chung. Weiland has gone from strength to strength in her creative endeavors and, as the mermaid-like designer prepares to make her very own wedding dress, we live in hope of a Shrimps bridal collection in the future.
A version of this exclusive interview first appeared in the pages of the 15th issue of ODDA Magazine.
Before you started a design course at LCF you completed a History of Art degree. What made you make the switch?
For me, art and fashion are intrinsically linked. When I was studying his- tory of art, I was also learning about the history of fashion. I studied Marie Antoinette and 18th century French courthouse dress; I then went on to write my dissertation on Grayson Perry’s pots and dresses. So, for me, it was never really a switch when I went to LCF, it was just a different approach to something I already loved and was already studying.
How did your foundation in History of Art influence your approach
Art influences everything I design. Having a wide knowledge of artists and art techniques has helped me research every collection I’ve designed. It is always my starting point when researching new color palettes and inspiration.
You launched Shrimps on the success of one faux fur coat and now produce full ready-to-wear collections. Was the brand’s expansion an organic process?
Yes, it was completely organic. I designed a coat and to style it I needed ready to wear and accessories. It all went from there!
Are there any other products you would like to see Shrimps take creative control over?
Accessories have become a big part of the Shrimps world, I’d like to keep expanding this category and would one day like to design shoes.
To the outside world your success story appears effortless, but what was it actually like starting out as a young designer in the industry? Did you encounter many difficulties?
I was only 23 when I started Shrimps, so I was very young and very naive, I learnt a lot on the job. I think this naivety had its pros and cons, I wasn’t scared to try because I didn’t know how I could fail, but it probably would have helped to have more of a knowledge about certain things, particularly when it came to wholesale and how all the seasons work. There were lots of ups and downs, and the normal teething problems any young business would experience. I really enjoyed the experience though.
Do you revisit the same pillars of inspiration or are you constantly re- searching for each new collection?
I think it is important to not completely change your inspiration each sea- son as I think this would create a disconnect between collections. As a designer, you have a style and particular things that you are interested in. I think this is what creates a brand. If you constantly changed, it wouldn’t make sense. I reference my favorite artists a lot but do often introduce new influences, however in general they have a similar feeling.
There is a palpable sense of fun in your designs, sort of the most glamorous iteration of what you might find in the dressing up box. Is that something you intended to covey?
Yes, I love a sense of fun and humor, executed in a glamorous, chic way. Shrimps is a very British brand, it doesn’t take itself too seriously!
Do you think there are any difficulties to be faced by being a woman in the UK fashion industry?
The fashion industry in the UK is a very female-dominated industry, which I love! However, I do feel like there could still be more women in the very top jobs.
You are known for dressing some of the most stylish women in the world, is there any one left who you would love to see decked out in Shrimps?
I would love to dress the Queen in Shrimps. She wears so many beautiful colors, I particularly loved her recent Lime Green outfit, it would have looked great accessorized with our Lime Green Venezia bag.
“I WAS ONLY 23 WHEN I STARTED SHRIMPS, SO I WAS VERY YOUNG AND VERY NAIVE, I LEARNT A LOT ON THE JOB. THIS NAIVETY HAD ITS PROS AND CONS” – HANNAH WEILAND
Throughout your career you have been a keen collaborator, what is it about working with other people that you find exciting?
I love working with other creatives, it brings completely new, fresh ideas to the table. It is always very exciting, as I tend to collaborate with people I really admire and respect. It is also nice seeing into the world of different businesses and how everything works for other product categories that I don’t normally work with.
You have started introducing Resort collections to your yearly output at a time when people are talking about the pressures on designer to produce more than ever – is this a pressure you feel or is something you take on board with the growth of the brand?
Yes, I would say there is a pressure to offer constant newness, but it is essential to the growth of the brand. The customer likes a refresh and I understand why. I love designing so, for me, it is a good pressure!
Shrimps is a must see show at LFW, but you have never done a runway collection, is there a reason the presentation format is a better fit for the label?
I love doing presentations as I love creating all-encompassing set spaces that really draw you into the Shrimps world. I think it would also be great to do a runway in the future. It’s nice to mix it up, but my heart will always belong to presentations.
You are designing your own wedding and bridesmaid’s dresses. What was your inspiration/who is your ultimate wedding muse? How has the process been?
My inspirations have been quite emotional and romantic. I have taken elements from things my fiancée and I love. Inspirations from people who have passed away and references to things that brought us together. It is an emotional process designing a wedding dress. It’s a dress that will always mean a lot to Arthur and me. My bridesmaids’ dresses are printed with my hand drawn paintings of roses. My middle name is Rose and I love flowers, it is all very personal, which I love. My ultimate wedding muse is probably Margarita Missoni. I loved her dress and the way she decorated her wedding, very colorful, full of flowers and beautiful prints.
Is there anything you would tell yourself starting out in 2013 now that you wish you had known then?
Don’t stress so much as everything will be ok.
Looking forward, what is in store for Shrimps in the next year?
Lots of exciting surprises!
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