Is Love Island’s decision to dump fast fashion a step in the right direction?



Since I was named after the Greek Goddess of the Earth 'Gaia', I can quite literally say from birth, I have been mindful of looking after our planet. I have childhood memories of my mother teaching me about James Lovelock's 1970 'Gaia Hypothesis', which proposes the Earth is a super-organism 'that operates to regulate its own environment, principally temperature, to keep it habitable for the biosphere'.


The Fashion industry is responsible for '10 percent of human-caused greenhouse gas emissions and 20 percent of global wastewater' (The Independent). However, it can be very hard at times to stay completely sustainable or not get sucked into the black hole that is fast fashion, especially as a university student who regularly struggles with having enough money. Despite being conscious of how my purchases impact the planet, it’s not always financially viable to buy from independent small businesses or purchase organic food.


One guilty pleasure of mine, that does unfortunately contradict several of my sustainable and ethical values, is Love Island. Love Island is a British dating TV show that has taken the world by storm within the last few years, its huge success seeing several spin-offs in other countries, such as Love Island USA and Love Island Australia. The premise of Love Island involves a group of single young people spending several weeks in a Majorca villa. Viewers watch contestants couple up with each other, take part in steamy games, and face elimination via public vote. These addictive aspects of the show make it hard not to tune in every night to see the drama unfold between contestants and who are getting dumped off the island.


Love Island’s origins & influence


Love Island is the epitome of fast fashion, with previous companies such as I Saw It First, who sell garments for as cheap as £2.80, sponsoring the show and providing accessories for contestants to wear on screen. It doesn’t stop there though. Even after they leave the villa, most islanders become ambassadors for popular fast fashion brands, most famously Molly-Mae Hague recently becoming Pretty Little Thing’s UK and EU Creative Director. Pretty Little Thing themselves have been the centre of many fast fashion controversies, famous for using planet-damaging polyester and illegally paying their garment workers £3.50 an hour.


It is undeniable for many that the influence Love Island has on fashion trends and buying is simply astounding. In their 2019 season, the yellow ISIF dress Molly-Mae wore to her final date with Tommy Fury sold out in 10 mins. Even last year’s winner, Millie Court influenced online searches massively, with the terms “marble dress” increasing by 127 per cent and “hot pink co-ords” by 114 per cent, after she was spotted in those items.


What will happen this year?


However, this year Love Island is dumping its fast-fashion sponsors for eBay, in hopes to become more eco-friendly and encourage sustainable change. Instead of being offered £500 to spend on fast fashion like in past years, this year’s contestants will be styled in preloved clothing provided by eBay, and encouraged to bring clothes from home. Viewers will also be able to buy second-hand clothes and accessories seen on the show through the Love Island app. This transition to second-hand clothing is seen to complement the new buying behaviours of Love Island’s 16–34-year-old demographic. According to eBay, British shoppers have become increasingly conscious of the impacts of fast fashion, with 80% of under 24-year-olds (Gen Z), having recently purchased second-hand items. Moreover, it has been found 18–34-year-olds have the highest average percentage of owning preloved clothing. The preloved market is also set to double between now and 2024. Therefore, it makes total sense for Love Island to reject its previous ways and jump on this better, more sustainable bandwagon, on the way to a greener world.



Is this good enough?


Personally, I think it is amazing that Love Island is finally stepping up and acknowledging its unsustainable methods. Love Island has a massive impact on fast-fashion addicts, and bringing second-hand clothing to the forefront will hopefully encourage more conversations about climate change and break down the stigma of outfit repeating. Don’t get me wrong, so much more needs to change in the Fashion Industry and there are still so many flaws with the format of Love Island and its values, for instance only including cisgender straight contestants. But dumping fast fashion for second-hand clothing is great and will make a difference, no matter how big or small.