How Shrimps became an it girl staple

4 mins
01 Dec 2022
How Shrimps became an it girl staple

The London label’s faux fur coats, beaded bags and organza dresses are designed for dreamers

image John Phillips/BFC / Getty

words Sophie Lou Wilson

It all started with a coat. When Hannah Weiland was studying textile design at London College of Fashion, she stumbled upon the softest faux fur she’d ever felt. It was one of those creative lightbulb moments and it would go on to change her life, not to mention the landscape of contemporary London fashion. Her idea was to create a colourful Breton-striped faux fur coat. The rest, as they say, is history.

The Shrimps coat has been a mainstay of London street style since its conception in 2013, when 23-year-old Hannah set up the brand as a student side project. Beloved by the capital’s it girls like Alexa Chung, Adwoa Aboah and Poppy Delevigne as well as musicians Sigrid and Jayda G, the coat is the brand’s most recognisable piece though geometric bead bags, floral organza dresses and embroidered knitwear are also returning favourites.

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As a student, Hannah was warned of the difficulties of starting her own brand, but her lucky break came when Net-a-Porter put in a huge order after seeing one of the initial faux fur coats. It reads like a fashion fairytale, but Hannah admits there was an element of being in the right place at the right time. She pioneered the faux fur space before major fashion houses caught onto the fabric’s potential.

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Using real fur had been controversial for some time, not least because of high-profile protests by animal rights charities. For Hannah, however, cruelty-free fashion was a no brainer. Growing up around animals, she could never imagine hurting them with her designs. Shrimps’ commitment to remaining fur-free has won praise from PETA who have a notoriously contentious relationship with the fashion industry.

The faux fur that Shrimps use is so realistic that upon receiving the first swatches, Hannah had to ring the manufacturer two or three times to make sure that they hadn’t sent her real fur by mistake. Even after the first coats were released, people would tweet Shrimps saying they’d been tricked and the fur was real.

In the decade since Shrimps’ faux fur hit the scene, the tension between cruelty-free fashion and plastic-free fashion has called into question the net environmental impact of fake fur. To counteract this, Shrimps only works with factories that craft faux fur out of recycled plastics and each garment, Hannah says, is “a recognisable piece of clothing that you save up for and keep forever” thus reducing the consumption of cheaper, throw-away fashion.

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Faux fur aside, Shrimps’ aesthetic is defined by its girlish charm with flouncy organza dresses and upbeat motifs designed to make your inner child squeal with delight. Many of the prints come from Hannah’s own absent-minded doodles inspired by daydreams or her childhood teddy bear. Meanwhile, the name of the brand itself comes from Hannah’s school nickname which she earned by being “small and pink.”

Shrimps’ dreamy pops of colour are inspired by the vibrant, contrasting palettes of Van Gogh and Matisse that Hannah studied during her art history degree. However, rich darks and creams in silk and lace add a deliciously gothic touch that would make Wednesday Addams proud.

The Peter Pan collars, patterned cardigans and fur-trimmed coats tap into the twee aesthetic championed by the likes of Zooey Deschanel and Margot from Wes Anderson's The Royal Tenenbaums. This wholesome mid-2010s aesthetic is making a comeback courtesy of TikTok’s sped-up revival spiral that has us all reaching for nostalgia-driven clothes, music and culture that remind us of simpler times.

Experience the lush textiles and playful designs for yourself with our selection of Shrimps staples, from the iconic fur-trimmed coat to knit balaclavas and handmade beaded mini bags. Discover more here.

Products are selected independently by our editors from the Woo online store, a carefully curated platform for feel good fashion, beauty, wellness and lifestyle, as well as externally. Discover more here.

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