Dreamy pop colours and unique designs, Shrimps are re-imagining faux- fur, for the better.
Fur is one of those words that you can barely utter without finding yourself in the middle of a heated debate. Try saying it in Sainsbury’s or on the night bus, and you’ll no doubt end up chairing your own panel on ethics. But as fur finds its way back on to the runway in increasingly diverse ways (fur Mohicans at Fendi, remember?) other ways of engaging with the debate are slowly beginning to emerge. While fur has always been considered a luxury reserved for the 1%, now it’s for everybody. Well, sort of. Hannah Weiland, of luxury faux-fur line Shrimps, wants to bring all things soft and furry to a new audience, and she’s leaving behind any of the stigma. “I could never work with real fur, I grew up with so many animals I couldn’t do it, I always dreamed of coloured faux-fur instead.
For Hannah, the reasons span from personal ethics (though she has no problem with other people wearing the real thing) to practicality. “Why wear real fur? This doesn’t malt, if you get caught in the rain it doesn’t matt or collect that musty smell, it doesn’t rip.” After deciding she wanted to make a Breton stripe coat in her final year of LCF, Weiland sourced the softest, glossiest faux fur she could get her hands on, so good in fact, that people often refuse to believe it’s legit. “When I got all the swatches in I had to double check it was fake, I rang the manufacturers to double and triple check because it was just so soft. I get people tweeting me like ‘you’ve been tricked this isn’t faux I can tell by the different length and way it blows in a circle’ and I’m like ‘erm, do you want to come to the factory and see?!’”
Orange and hot pink faux fur Doris coat by SHRIMPS AW13, green cotton trousers and yellow converse from a selection at ROKIT
Now into her second season and finding herself at the head of a fully-fledged business (Natalie Massanet of Net-a- Porter is famously a big fan) Weiland’s bold orange and blue coats have become a permanent fixture on the shoulders of London fashion pin-ups like Adwoa Aboah, Susie Bubble, and long-time supporter Laura Bailey. She’s been welcomed in to the industry by stylists, stockists, and editors alike, something many brands strive years to achieve. “It’s been really amazing, I actually met Natalie the other day, I went up to her and said ‘I’m Hannah from Shrimps!’ and she just hugged me and was like ‘we all love you!’ Net-a-Porter are obviously a huge global business, so we had no idea what they were going to be like and they’ve been so supportive.”
That’s not to say success fell into her lap over night, after having her first samples made Hannah set her sights on Avenue 32, “I tried to email them a few times but obviously everyone’s busy and no one knew who I was. Then I walked a sample round on a really hot day and they were like ‘can you tell me the wholesale price?’ and I was like ‘well… I think it’s this,’ when they said they were going to buy into it I was so shocked.”
Going from unanswered emails to having features on her coats and clutches everywhere from Vanity Fair to The Times can’t have been any less shocking, but despite the constant press, Hannah’s main focus remains firmly on her next collection (for AW14). “I’m quite colour obsessed, when I’m thinking of my initial ideas I look through art books and at my favourite paintings. All of my favourite artists use really amazing colours; I’m obsessed with Matisse, and Van Gough, that navy blue and yellow!” On top of the wonderfully heady striped oranges, pinks and blues, Hannah has introduced navy blue for the collection, meaning you’re going to want one even if colour isn’t necessarily your thing. “Faux fur can be for every customer, even really high-end customers, and because it’s outerwear the age range is really varied – there’s everyone from 18 to 90-year-olds. My nana loves them!”
Navy and cream Wilma coat by SHRIMPS SS14 and black plastic sunglasses from a selection at ROKIT.
Words: Bertie Brandes