Why ‘Love Island’ is trading fast fashion for second-hand

This year, the Love Island TV show contestants will be scantily clad in second-hand clothes rather than new clothes — a linchpin away from fast-paced fashion that could influence more environmentally conscious shopping habits among fans. The much-loved reality show returns to television this week, bringing with it a range of colorful bikinis and sleek outfits that viewers will seek to dress like their favorite islanders.

For the past three years, Love Island has partnered with I Saw It First, an online fast-fashion brand that sponsored the show and provided clothing for the contestants. This year, Love Island is sponsored by eBay and participants will be dressed in second-hand outfits on screen.

Sustainability advocates will welcome the change, as they have criticized the show for encouraging the consumption of fast-fashion. In June 2019, during a Love Island commercial break, online fashion retailer Missguided advertised a bikini priced at 1 pound ($1.25). Former Love Island contestants were used as models to promote the bikini, reinforcing the link between fast fashion and reality television.

Extremely low prices encourage a throwaway culture by implying that clothing has no value. Missguided said the bikini was a promotional item “coming to the same high standards as all of our other products,” and that the company took on the production costs as a gift to customers.

Of course, a partnership with eBay will not discourage consumption in general. Viewers can discover eBay’s “preloved fashion” through the official Love Island app, where they can purchase outfits similar to what they see on screen. The sponsorship could encourage consumers to buy second-hand clothing while the show airs for eight weeks.

Influencing shopping behaviour

The show will continue to create influencers, who can forge lucrative partnerships with fast-fashion brands once they leave the villa. Last year’s winner, Millie Court, has since struck a deal with ASOS and launched her own range. Perhaps the most commercially successful entrant is Molly-Mae Hague, who signed a six-figure clothing deal with Pretty Little Thing in 2019 before being named creative director in 2021.

Young consumers follow Love Island contestants and other reality celebrities on social media, impacting their fashion purchasing choices. These celebrities often remain in the public eye after appearing on television and promoting fashion brands through their platforms. Shoppers look to reality stars for fashion inspiration, and many report being influenced by digital influencers to make purchasing decisions.

Love Island is especially influential in the UK. In 2018, 80,000 applicants applied to appear on the show, while only 19,400 applied to the University of Oxford that same year. If you show up on Love Island for eight weeks, you’ll probably make more money over the course of your lifetime than three years at Oxbridge.

It’s not uncommon for contestants to leave the show with over a million social media followers. This is attractive to brands, who then pay these participants to advertise their products. All of this has contributed to changing values ​​among younger generations, who admire the instant success of reality stars.

Reality celebrities and other influencers use social media to encourage followers to buy the clothes they advertise at the click of a button. The instant gratification of buying clothes, without the need to hit the local high street, adds to the desirability — and disposable nature — of fast fashion.

Fast fashion and the planet

The adverse environmental impacts of the fast fashion industry are well documented. In the UK people buy more clothes per person than in any other country in Europe. The UK’s fashion industry is growing faster than the rest of the economy, with an estimated 140 million pounds (nearly $175 million) of clothing sent to landfill each year. Many fast-fashion garments are not made from single fiber materials and therefore cannot be recycled. Fashion is destroying the planet, and yet we continue to buy clothes.

Fast fashion is affordable, which means that it is not always of high quality and often not durable or long-lasting. It is also labor intensive and when placed in a landfill takes an extremely long time to biodegrade.

However, it is possible to love fashion and still be environmentally conscious. Changes in consumer values, vintage inspirations used by current fashion designers and a greater awareness of sustainability have led to a growing popularity of the second-hand clothing market.

Love Island’s decision to ditch fast-fashion sponsors in favor of second-hand options is a step in the right direction. It will be interesting to see if this year’s contestants will partner with fast-fashion brands or more durable and second-hand options when they leave the show – this could be the real test of the success of the partnership with eBay.

Rose Marroncelli is a PhD researcher at Nottingham Trent University.

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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