Our Reaction to Love Island’s New Sustainability Push

With the new series of Love Island starting tonight there has been a lot of talk about the show’s replacement of fast fashion sponsors such as Boohoo and ISAWITFIRST, with consumer-to-consumer marketplace eBay. Recent years have seen second hand clothes shopping take off, helped by apps such as Vinted and Depop, with eBay remaining the go-to site for any second hand needs. With so much information out there about the devastation caused by fast fashion, and so many campaigns for its reduction, it has seemed jarring every year to witness the surge in its popularity during Love Island season. The most memorable symbol of this throwaway culture was the £1 bikini that was advertised by Missguided during the 2019 series (although it was claimed by the brands owner that this was simply a marketing stunt and the products were sold at a loss).

But could this year see the tide begin to turn?

Way back in 2007, journalist and activist Mark Lynas perfectly summed up the problem with the fashion industry: “Each new trend that sweeps through the high street renders the old trend obsolete. It’s difficult to imagine a more wasteful system”. And things have only gotten worse.

But, if the trendsetters themselves are to be seen repurposing used clothes, then this could signal a huge turning point in the relationship between popular culture and the fast fashion industry. Previous winners of the show have gone on to become the face, or in Molly Mae’s case, the ‘creative director’ of fast fashion brands. Making them champions of clothes swapping and second hand purchasing instead could be a smart way to alter the opinion of a generation who are not only becoming desensitized to climate change fear mongering and confused by greenwashing, but who are under constant social and financial pressure.

Another iconic feature of the show is the personalized bottle given to all contestants (which has become sold everywhere you look on the internet for only a couple of pounds a piece). Up until last year the bottles have been made of clear plastic, but the new stainless steel design introduced in 2021 signaled that the production company was beginning to think about their environmental impact, and we’re pleased to see they are building on this in the new series with their carefully considered wardrobe choices. The logical next step would be to stop flying 15-odd contestants, 2 presenters and a whole filming crew out to Mallorca every year and host the show somewhere closer to home, but that may be too much of an ask.

It has been found that 41% of 18-25 year olds feel the need to wear a different outfit every time they go out, also revealing that 1 in 6 young people don’t feel they can wear an outfit once it’s already been shared on social media (Hubbub). With around 43% of Love Island viewers being under the age of 30 (Smith, 2019), it’s amazing to see that its influence is finally being used to spread a worthy message (if we ignore the actual behaviour of the contestants and concentrate on what they’re wearing).

The idea of having a shared wardrobe that will no doubt double up as a sort ‘secret’ conversation space seems to be a great way of incorporating second fashion into the genetics of the show itself, and hopefully will encourage the use of second hand sites not only to source new outfits but to responsibly get rid of unwanted ones. It will be interesting to see what the feedback from fans will be, but we predict big queues at the Post Office.

For a stainless steel bottle that isn’t only trendy for 6 weeks of the year try one of ours…

References: Can Shopping Save the Planet? Mark Lynas, The Guardian Online, Sept 2007
Love Island ditches fast fashion sponsor for preloved pioneer eBay, Chloe Street, The Evening Standard Online, May 2022
How a £1 bikini revealed the changing shape of fast fashion, Zoe Wood, The Guardian Online, June 2019
Women’s attitudes towards fast fashion revealed, Lottie Hanson-Lowe, Hubbub Foundation Blog, Sept 2019
What kind of person watches Love Island?, Matthew Smith, YouGov

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