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Emma Brewin hat maker faux fur
Photography Chloe Sheppard

Meet the emerging designer counting Miley Cyrus and Dev Hynes as fans

Emma Brewin is making a name for herself with her wildly fabulous faux fur hats and accessories

You might not know her name just yet, but it’s likely you’ll have seen some of her designs when absentmindedly scrolling your Instagram feed for the 4,785th time on any given day. Having launched her eponymous label in 2014, over the course of the last year the fervour for Emma Brewin’s wildly fabulous faux fur accessories has snowballed, as fans in the shape of Dev Hynes, Nadia Lee Cohen, Kelsey Lu, and, most recently, Miley Cyrus pledge their allegiance to her wide-brimmed hats and oversized berets.

Drawing inspiration from her grandmother, each enormous, over-the-top style evokes memories of raiding your dressing-up box and emerging laden down in too-big clothes, dripping with wholly inappropriate jewellery. “The concept came to me when I was in my final year at uni,” explains Brewin. “My graduate collection was based around the idea, and when I finished, the pieces were being called in by stylists for shoots all the time, so I decided to make more.” Each one is made by hand using materials sourced in the UK, and the likelihood is, if you decide to buy one, it’ll have been personally crafted by the designer in her tiny studio.

Surprisingly for an emerging designer, Brewin has never felt the lure of London: having studied at Rochester University, she eventually settled in Sandwich Bay, Kent, and now works right by the beach. “I love living out here. There’s just so much going on in London I know I’d be completely distracted all the time, I’d never get any work done,” she laughs. “Don’t get me wrong, I love the city and I’m there all the time, but out here there’s room to breathe, you know?”

Starting most mornings with a walk along the shore, Brewin is also committed to raising awareness when it comes to environmental issues, and started @plasticbelly_ as a means of documenting the plastic she collects from the beach on a regular basis – a total, which, at the moment, stands at 18,378 pieces.

“It’s crazy how much plastic there is on the beach, and how people are still just dumping it there. But when you get it home, and get it all washed off and clean, it’s amazing how beautiful it is” – Emma Brewin

“I’ve been doing it for a while now,” she says. “It’s crazy how much there is on the beach, and how people are still just dumping it there. But when you get it home, and get it all washed off and clean, it’s amazing how beautiful it is.” Brewin doesn’t let it go to waste either, making unique, one-of-a-kind pieces of jewellery with her findings. And while the faux fur she uses isn’t recycled for the time being, it’s a direction she’d like to head in as her label becomes more established. “For now, because everything is handmade in small batches, there’s very little left-over. But in the future, I’d love for everything to be made from recycled and recyclable materials.”  

It’s not just inanimate plastic objects that Brewin saves, though. Between pretty much single-handedly running a studio and her one-woman mission to clear up the Kent coast, she’s also saved countless birds. “It all started when one of my friends brought me one years ago,” she explains. “Ever since then, I’ve been looking after them when they’re lost or hurt, until they’re ready to fly the nest again.” Until recently, that was Jelly, a vivid green parakeet, who can be seen throughout her feed. “She’s missing at the moment, though, i’ve not seen her for a while. I hope she’s gone off back to where she came from to rejoin her little friends.”  

So what’s next for Brewin? “I’m so busy – I think I’m going to need help next year,” she surmises. “Aside from that, I’m not sure. Maybe a collaboration, certainly more plastic-collecting, and probably some more jewellery, too. I’m really happy doing what I’m doing, so hopefully 2019 will bring more of the same.”