This year, Love Island is making a sustainable switch by partnering with eBay UK to dress its islanders in second-hand garments.
In previous years, the show partnered with fast-fashion brands, including I Saw It First and Misguided, to provide clothes and accessories for its contestants. These companies sell dresses starting at £4 and were criticised for creating bikinis priced at £1 in 2019.
The show has long been entwined with fast fashion, even offering live shopping through the Love Island app, where viewers can order the sponsored looks they see on TV instantaneously in a ‘see-now, by now’ model. Such methods played into the dynamic of instant gratification and made shopping for fast fashion an integral part of the show’s entertainment.
Speaking on the matter, the show’s executive producer Mike Spencer said: “We are thrilled to be pairing up with eBay this year as our pre-loved fashion partner. As a show, we strive to be a more eco-friendly production with more focus on ways in which we can visibly show this on screen.”
“This partnership will see our Islanders get to dive into the shared wardrobes and help themselves to some incredible pre-loved clothes sourced from eBay. We aim to inspire our demographic and show that there are incredible finds to be had and how sharing is, in some small way, caring.”
Contestants will also bring their favourite clothing items from home to wear on camera.
Brett Staniland. PhD, a 2021 Love Island contestant and outspoken sustainable fashion advocate, explained to Vogue Business how producers encouraged contestants close relationships with fast fashion behind the scenes:
“Before I entered the villa, I was offered £500 to spend with the show’s sponsor. Once I was inside, I was delivered duffel bags full of free clothes every three or four days, which I also declined. It was mind blowing to see so many clothes worn once and then discarded. The show is symbiotic with fast fashion.”
So, can Love Island break away from this relationship? In the past, the show’s most successful contestants have become influencers in the fast fashion sphere, using the show to launch their careers by securing six-figure brand deals. Previous contestants to do this include Maura Higgins, an ambassador for brands Pretty Little Thing and Boohoo and winner Millie Court, whose agreement with ASOS rendered her an overnight multi-millionaire.
With Love Island’s shift towards sustainability, perhaps we will fashion a new image of the influencer, no longer repping low-quality, fast fashion brand names but instead styling high-quality, slow-fashion pieces. This type of sustainable fashion influencer currently thrives in a growing niche. However, the show has hired celebrity stylist Amy Bannerman to dress the cast, perhaps indicating that new influencers can be expected to style pre-loved or sustainable pieces.
A recent TikTok garnered attention when it showed previous Love Island contestant Jordan Hames’ changing fashion style, transitioning from mass-produced, fast-fashion styles to high-fashion, statement pieces. Like Brett Staniland, can we expect the new islanders to do second-hand hauls and re-wear their garments for multiple posts and appearances?
It’s unclear whether Love Island’s eBay partnership will affect the types of sponsorships that contestants receive. However, as Brett puts it:
“I would love to see more sustainably minded contestants on the show take this progress further. Maybe the winner will become a brand ambassador for Ebay instead of Boohoo.”