"It's so hot in London, and we've got all this fluff around us."
Hannah Weiland, ingénue brainchild behind the London-based label Shrimps, is contemplating the working conditions of her tiny, dedicated team (comprised of herself, her studio manager and her production co-ordinator).
Though this past summer was a particularly stifling one in England, her thoughts remained fixed on the label's fuzzy outerwear and accessories, which are gaining cultish momentum around the world. Weiland is adamant that her designs aren't just for the colder months and even advocates pairing her coats with bare legs. "You buy something and it's yours forever. You should be able to wear it all the time," she says.
A graduate of the London College of Fashion, 23-year-old Weiland launched her label last year – almost unintentionally. "I didn't set out to start a brand. I was at [school] for textile design and was in fabric shops a lot. And there was just no good faux-fur around." Desiring a Breton stripe coat for herself, Weiland, who doesn't wear real fur, eventually came across faux material she was happy with. "My mom's friend is a children'swear designer. She found it." Weiland made the coat, then added a clutch to her repertoire; after showing her samples around, her designs found important advocates, including Weiland's friend, the model and writer Laura Bailey, who signed up as a supporter. "She doesn't wear fur," Weiland notes. "She loved them."
When Bailey wore her Shrimps coat during London Fashion Week, style maven Alexa Chung tried it on. At another runway show, Net-a-porter founder Natalie Massenet asked her where it was from. "We need it at Net right now," concluded the fashion oracle, who ordered a navy and white coat for herself and was instantly snapped by street-style photographers. A star brand was born.
Apart from being the first faux-fur line to be carried by Net-a-porter, Shrimps's success got a boisterous backing from famed London blogger Susie Bubble (real name: Susie Lau), whose posts about her fluffy find brought more traffic to the Shrimps website than any other early press. Lau, who Weiland describes as a "patron of young British designers," has a knack for offbeat styling, wearing her orange and pink Dulcie coat with a pink skirt. This look struck a chord with Weiland, who says her favourite way of wearing a Shrimps piece is with "all colour."
A bright palette is Shrimps's signature: For the line's autumn 2014 collection, Scottish artist Eduardo Paolozzi's vibrant, rainbow-hued collages are referenced in the label's pairings of powder blue, pale pink and deep navy. It's quirky, cheerful spectrum of coats is now available at Holt Renfrew – one of 20 retailers carrying the brand worldwide this season (quite a leap from its three initial outposts).
"I don't want to rush," Weiland says of her rapid success and the pressure to create more, which naturally follows. "I want to do things properly and have quality over quantity."
When asked about future plans, she says she has many, including building the online shop recently launched on Shrimps's website and making her debut at London Fashion Week in September.
In keeping with her brand's bold aesthetic, it's no surprise that Weiland describes her future as "bright." In fact, it's impossible to disagree.