Is Love Island really doing anything for the circular economy?

Just prior to the launch of this year’s Love Island, the producers announced that all contestants would be dressed in secondhand clothes from eBay, the new sponsors of the series. 

For anyone that promotes sustainable fashion it seemed like an incredible platform to educate and excite the viewers about the possibilities of pre-loved clothing. 

Head of fashion buying at eBay Jemma Tadd believes Love Island, which in previous years has amassed audiences of three million and upwards per episode, has the power to change consumers’ perceptions around secondhand clothes and also change their spending habits in relation to fast fashion. 

In 2019, fast-fashion giant I Saw It First, the previous sponsor of Love Island, had a 67 per cent increase in sales and a 254 per cent increase in Instagram followers as a result of contestants wearing its products. But this year the brand, which sells clothes for as little as £2.80, was ditched by ITV; Instead Jemma Todd said: “We hope when people see [eBay sourced products] on the Islanders, it inspires them to either add a couple of pre-loved pieces to their wardrobes, or sell stuff they no longer use to keep things in circulation,”

Jemma Tadd and the eBay team worked with celebrity stylist and pre-loved fanatic Amy Bannerman. She said: We decided to make things easier by coming up with four product categories that would make up the shared wardrobe in the villa…“Love Me Forever”, which comprises pieces intended to be worn today or in 20 years, “Dopamine Dressing”, which boasts really colourful pieces, “Blurred Lines”, which is to do with gender-neutral dressing, and “Y2K”, which is pastel-heavy.”

She added: “The main element in all of this is the shared wardrobe, which we hope will make men and women wear the same products. We’d love to see a girl wear a guys shirt as a dress. Also there is a seamstress available, so clothes can be altered to suit individuals. We want nothing to go to waste and we want the clothing to really standout in the show.”

In an interview with The Guardian, former islander Brett Staniland was a little more cynical. He said: “ITV aren’t stupid. They’re looking at the direction the market is going in, and they’re thinking about how they can set themselves apart from other dating shows. It’s important to say that it’s just one brick in the wall. ITV will still take ads from fast fashion brands; influencers will still sign up for deals after they leave the show…”

He added: “But actually, what my experience on the show taught me, a lot of people do want to have this conversation,” Brett said. “You just have to centre it around the impact this stuff has on other people. One of my friends from the show, she told me that Shein asked her to work with them, and she said, because of what we talked about, I’m not going to work with them. And I was like, that’s great. It’s all about the little wins.”

19 year old Poppy Vernon is a Love Island viewer. She’s not sure that the secondhand clothing plan will make any difference at all to her generation of viewers. She said: ‘It’s not obvious enough. They never discuss it or make a point of highlighting it to the viewers.  People just see outfits they like and then google them for the least expensive way of mimicking them. We want to get great clothes at low prices and yes, that could mean going to a charity shop or buying a b.kinda box – but that’s not the intention that Love Island had. It just shows that far more noise needs to be made about why it’s so important to buy secondhand and pre-loved clothes – and the difference it’ll make to the world.”

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