Richard Malone

Emirates Woman - - #britishdesigners -

You have been very open about grow­ing up in a low-in­come home in Ire­land. How did you nav­i­gate your way into an in­dus­try that is known for em­ploy­ing the priv­i­leged? By work­ing

ex­tremely hard. I think com­ing from a place with­out a knowl­edge of fash­ion and cer­tainly not of lux­ury fash­ion gave me a re­ally unique per­spec­tive. I placed value in the work, the ideas and the out­put. Cen­tral Saint Martins is ob­vi­ously full of ex­tremely priv­i­leged in­di­vid­u­als, and the fash­ion in­dus­try now is over­run with nepo­tism. I was re­ally en­cour­aged to em­brace what I knew and ap­ply it to my projects, which I was do­ing any­way. I also think it boils down to the fact that I don’t have the op­tion of not suc­ceed­ing, there isn’t a com­fort blan­ket. I’m an Ir­ish im­mi­grant liv­ing here with­out fam­ily. I came here alone so you re­ally have to be creative with how you get by. It’s about perseverance and au­then­tic­ity, re­ally.

Since grad­u­at­ing you have re­ceived an ac­co­lade of awards and worked with one of the most pow­er­ful fash­ion houses in the world, Louis Vuit­ton. How have all of these ex­pe­ri­ences shaped the way you view the fash­ion in­dus­try? It’s nice to re­ceive

recog­ni­tion, but as a de­signer you be­come very aware that a lot of these prizes and com­pe­ti­tions are there to ben­e­fit the im­age of these con­glom­er­ates, and that’s as deep as it goes. As de­sign­ers we have to be aware of this and re­alise the value in our own work. I have had a lot of of­fers from lux­ury brands since grad­u­at­ing and there is great power in say­ing 'no' and spell­ing out why, whether they be un­sus­tain­able ethics or the amount of pres­sure put on de­sign­ers, say­ing 'no' has been a re­ally valu­able les­son. My view of fash­ion is chang­ing, on many lev­els it’s dis­gust­ing but so­cial me­dia has height­ened a lot of the ter­ri­ble traits, there is just so much in­fe­rior prod­uct and it re­ally shows how in­se­cure peo­ple are. It’s very sad. But there is more trans­parency now so the cus­tomer is chang­ing, and that is how we can get the mega brands to change, as at the end of the day, they only care about profit.

Women in this re­gion are em­pow­ered de­spite the stereo­typ­i­cal nar­ra­tive that the me­dia projects. How do you think your clothes work as a cat­a­lyst to em­power women all over the world?

Women em­power women, and if my clothes can be a cat­a­lyst for that then I’m thrilled. I think clothes are cer­tainly pow­er­ful in fa­cil­i­tat­ing that per­son’s needs, and in com­mu­ni­cat­ing how far women’s rights have come and how women see them­selves now. I’ m ex­tremely pleased when women buy pieces to rely on, it’s in­cred­i­bly re­ward­ing as a de­signer.

If you could dress any­one in this re­gion who would it be and why? I’d

like to dress the wo­man who dis­creetly dis­cov­ers the col­lec­tion, finds some­thing she loves and re­lies on that piece in her wardrobe to feel re­ally ex­cel­lent.

Do you feel it is a de­signer’s re­spon­si­bil­ity to cre­ate diver­sity within the in­dus­try? Cer­tainly. But it seems

counter-in­tu­itive to only look for it on the run­way – re­al­is­ti­cally, that will change noth­ing, it just makes fash­ion folk feel a bit bet­ter. Fash­ion run­ways only ap­peal to a very spe­cific set of peo­ple – so how far that reach is, seems very, very lim­ited. These con­ver­sa­tions around diver­sity are far, far more rel­e­vant in the real world, as cat walk diver­sity of­ten feels like to­kenism.

Do you think so­cial me­dia is di­lut­ing cre­ativ­ity by amass­ing their tal­ent to a fol­low­ing? It’s one of the worst things

to hap­pen in fash­ion. But it fol­lows seam­lessly on from this rise of celebrity de­sign­ers. It’s ac­tu­ally a very dark time for fash­ion in that money can just buy you a ca­reer and pay for some good re­views. It re­ally af­fects peo­ple’s men­tal health too, es­pe­cially de­sign­ers be­cause it’s like an end­less pop­u­lar­ity con­test with no end goal. I also think it is ru­in­ing fash­ion im­agery be­cause the qual­ity of print and ana­logue has no place on an iPhone screen, and nor does any kind of real fash­ion.

“I don’ t have the op­tion of not suc­ceed­ing, there isn’t a com­fort blan­ket. It’s about perseverance and au­then­tic­ity”

You have men­tioned that you would love to dress The Queen. What is it about The Queen that in­spires you and your brand? The Queen

is an ul­ti­mate Bri­tish icon. I love the colours she wears, the way she co-or­di­nates her out­fits and how she is al­ways car­ry­ing her hand­bag. And of course, her hats.

Shrimps is a fun, young brand with lots of in­ter­est­ing artis­tic in­spi­ra­tions. When you are de­sign­ing, how do you cre­ate each piece? I

of­ten go to art gal­leries and take an artist or art­work as a start­ing point for my col­lec­tions. I also tend to play with tex­ture and colour and my de­signs will come out of those ini­tial ideas. What urged you to de­sign wit hf aux fur? It was a con­scious de­ci­sion not to work with real fur due to an­i­mal cru­elty, and I’d al­ways wanted to make a faux fur coat in Breton stripes. When I came across a fac­tory mak­ing amaz­ing qual­ity faux fur, I was very ex­cited as I had never seen a qual­ity like it be­fore. Shrimps started from there.

Alexa Chung, Natalie Massenet and Laura Bai­ley are among your sup­port­ers. How has this helped to grow the brand? The sup­port

from these amaz­ing women has been in­valu­able for the brand and I am so grate­ful to them. Laura Bai­ley wear­ing a coat to Fash­ion Week was the first big ex­po­sure for the brand and that’s when all the re­quests started com­ing in.

What is the story be­hind your nick­name Shrimps?

When I was born I was small and pink like a shrimp, and so it be­came my nick­name! When I started Shrimps I liked the idea of the con­trast be­tween these soft fluffy coats and a crus­tacean. Very sur­real!

Is there any­thing ex­cit­ing com­ing up for Shrimps that you can tell us? So many things and some

very ex­cit­ing col­lab­o­ra­tions but you will have to wait and see!

What do you think about Dubai and how do you see your brand grow­ing in this re­gion?

I’ve never been to Dubai but I’d re­ally love to go. I know there are many glam­orous well­dressed women in Dubai that I would love to have wear­ing Shrimps.

What is it about be­ing in Lon­don that in spires you? Lon­don is very much part of the Shrimps

brand aes­thetic: it’s eclec­tic, colour­ful and full of in­ter­est­ing peo­ple and cul­tures.

What is your favourite item from the A/W18 col­lec­tion? I love our new black An­to­nia bag,

it is so sparkly that it in­stantly makes you feel glam­orous what­ever you are wear­ing it with.

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