Committed to cruelty-free fashion, English designer and Shrimps founder Hannah Weiland continues to wow us with her whimsical collections, one fabulous faux fur coat at a time
There is something just so intrinsically cool about Hannah Weiland. With her Rapunzelesque locks and unique style, the designer is a darling of the fashion world. A London College of Fashion alumna, Hannah launched her brand Shrimps (a childhood nickname because she was small and pink) in 2013 at 23 years old, with a faux fur coat the likes of which nobody had ever seen or felt before. When Net-A-Porter put in their first order, the brand took off in stratospheric style.
“Shrimps coats are really special pieces,” says Hannah. “They make you feel cosy and chic, they bring joy to the everyday. I think they are so popular because they are warm and functional as well as being beautiful.” Soon, every It girl across the globe had a Shrimps coat, closely followed by the Antonia bag, the brand’s next craze. “The Antonia bag is a classic beauty, a piece to keep and treasure forever,” smiles Hannah. “I think of it as the pearl necklace of bags. A piece of jewellery to wear on your arm.” A lover of animals since she can remember, Hannah has never used animal leather or fur in her designs, and never will. “I think there has been such positive change over the past few years, and I do think and hope that all brands will be fur free within the next decade,” says Hannah.
Her journey into the working world of fashion started with an internship at 15. “It was with Betty Jackson, an amazing designer who was so kind as to let 15-year-old me help in the school holidays. I learnt that fashion was what I loved most and what I wanted to do, I never looked back after that!” explains Hannah. Despite launching with such a bang, Hannah admits to not knowing much about the business side of fashion, explaining: “I was very naive and was definitely thrown in at the deep end! But being so young meant I didn’t really have a fear of failure, so the naivety helped in a way. I learnt the business side on the job, mistakes were made but I feel like I learnt and grew from them. Soon after launching I hired a studio manager who stayed with me for nearly five years. The next person I hired was in production and essential to the business. I have been so lucky to have such loyal, hard working team members, I really could not do it without them.”
Coming from a long line of creatives (her father is film director Paul Weiland) Hannah gets inventive in her studio, which she walks to every morning. “I generally start with a theme idea, from there I research colours, shapes and prints,” says Hannah. “I look at artists, I go to exhibitions, I go to antique markets and fairs. You can really find inspiration everywhere. All this research then forms my mood board, which develops into a collection. I love listening to classical music when I am concentrating on something creative like design. I love working in light-filled rooms, it helps with choosing colours and puts me in a better mood for designing, I absolutely love sunshine and blue skies.”
Shrimps offers a wonderfully whimsical slice of English lifestyle, with a pleasingly trippy range of homeware and childrenswear, as well as the sought-after ready to wear and accessories lines. “I really love the idea of expanding our offering as a brand, and it was so fun to design these pieces,” says Hannah. “I loved thinking on a bigger scale for the blankets. Knitwear is a big part of our collections, and there is so much you can do with knit and homeware.”
After a romantic Venetian engagement, Hannah married Arthur Guinness (scion of the brewing dynasty) in her country home in England in 2018. Her impossibly beautiful day was quite the event, gracing our screens and the pages of many a magazine. Hannah finds it impossible to identify the best moment of the day, admitting: “I have so many favourite parts, but I think the main highlight was the band and the dancing. We did a sort of karaoke style band session, where friends or family of ours would sing one of the songs alongside the band. It was really moving!” The picture-perfect pair honeymooned on the Amalfi coast, with Italy being their favourite place to visit.
A recent mother to a little boy, it seems that Hannah’s life has changed only for the better, and every time she walks in the door the first thing she does is give her son a big hug. ”I love watching my son grow and his personality develop, his quirks and what interests him,” says Hannah. “I love it when he laughs and hugs me. Since he was born I definitely have a better work/life balance. He is the sweetest little boy and I love spending time with him when I am not working.” Hannah spends her work days getting up at 7am, having breakfast with her family and heading to her studio. The hours tick by with “meetings, design sessions, zoom calls and then a walk home.” The evenings are spent either at work events, dinner with friends or at home with Arthur and dog Lionel McGruff. In her downtime Hannah most enjoys “the English countryside, family and friends, long walks and pub lunches”
With shopping at Shrimps often hailed as ‘guilt free,’ and with its instantly recognisable collections, the brand has a firm following. When asked what she hopes her pieces bring to clientele, Hannah is purposeful and says: “I hope our designs bring joy to the everyday, and that they make people feel happy.”
Out Of Office With Hannah Weiland
What is your favourite time of the day and why? Lunchtime, because it is always light (in the winter that matters!) and because I love eating.
Do you collect anything? Yes, I collect art and miniatures.
What would we find if we looked in your handbag? My diary (I always keep a paper diary rather than digital), my makeup bag, sunglasses and snacks.
Do you have a treasured item that you would never part with? Yes, my childhood teddy, DogDog. I am still very attached to him. My husband commissioned an artist called Peter Jones to paint his portrait, it hangs in a gold frame above our bed.
My go-to working wardrobe consists of… A Shrimps knitwear piece, jeans and New Balance trainers. Comfort is key as I walk to my studio.
My go-to beauty look for the 9-5 looks like… Mascara and lip balm, and wild curly hair, always!
What I love most about my job is… The creative freedom.
And what I enjoy the least is… The stress that current world affairs are putting the business under.
The gadget I can’t live without… My phone (of course!).
What is the last thing you bought? A vintage cardigan for my son from Etsy.
If I wasn’t in my current position, I would be… In the art world. Shop Shrimps SS22