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Love Island’s escape from fast fashion infamy

Katie Martin deepdives into the recent revelation from the TV show that we know all too well

Whether you love it or hate it, Love Island has had the nation glued to their TVs, watching 11 gorgeous singles strut around a villa in the same luminescent and equally polluting PrettyLittleThing outfits for the last seven years. However, Love Island’s executive producer Mike Spencer has announced that this year’s contestants will be styled in second hand clothes in a partnership the show has created with preloved platform eBay - a massive development for the show.

Love Island has been in the firing line for criticism over their fashion partners in past years from many of their contestants gaining brand deals with fast fashion titans PrettyLittleThing and Boohoo to I Saw It First sponsoring the show for the last three years. And it’s not just what the contestants are wearing on the show that sparks so much controversy – it’s the emergence of successful Love Island contestants as figureheads and influencers for fast fashion brands that tarnishes the reputation of the show further.

Most notoriously, 2019 winner Molly Mae Hague has faced enormous backlash for her appointment as Creative Director for PrettyLittleThing – a role that many in the marketing and advertising industry would need a degree and years of experience to gain. However, as the face of the brand, Hague has used her position as an influencer to direct young women towards the brand, despite its notoriety for being unethical and producing vast amounts of cheaply-made clothes that are rarely used as capsule wardrobe items. This revelation came to the forefront of the public’s minds when Hague’s PrettyLittleThing runway show in February was met with protesters outside the venue condemning the brand’s unsustainable and disposable products, as well as the shockingly low wages they pay their garment workers.

What effect will Love Island’s detachment from these brands therefore have on their viewers? The impact influencer marketing has on young audiences has become huge and now has the ability to create trends and shape our shopping habits. Although this has previously had negative connotations, Love Island’s adoption of a cast decked out in sustainable clothes and a shared wardrobe for the Islanders to prolong the wear of their outfits will be hugely refreshing.

You’ll also be able to ‘shop the show’ on the Love Island app as you would in previous years, except you’ll be directed to eBay’s website where you can find more second hand finds available instead of being led to the I Saw It First website for the cheaply made and highly pollutant outfits the contestants are wearing.

By driving circularity, Love Island has the opportunity to change people’s mindsets in reassuring them that it is possible to be stylish through rewearing clothes rather than engaging in the disposable culture that fast fashion promotes. If viewers can be convinced to reimagine how they wear the clothes they already own, massive steps can be taken to reduce waste in the fashion industry.

It’s unknown whether the contestants themselves will continue to partner with sustainable brands or be tempted by the huge paycheck and exposure that fast-fashion brands after the show -- one thing for sure though, is that we can stay hopeful.


Words: Katie Martin


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