Following the move towards a sponsorship with eBay, you would be forgiven for thinking that fast fashion is being dumped from the Love Island villa. However, the more you look into this new partnership, the more questions arise as to whether it represents the show moving towards a more sustainable approach or if, in fact, it is a performative move to imply the show is being kinder to the planet.
After previously partnering with I Saw It First and Missguided, the 2022 series of Love Island has recoupled with eBay, with the online company supplying the islanders with pre-loved items for them to wear during their time in Mallorca. On the surface, this move away from fast fashion toward a more sustainable alternative could be viewed positively. Being one of ITV’s biggest hits, Love Island reaches a wide audience. Encouraging its viewership to explore pre-owned options should indicate an important step for such an influential show. However, when exploring the relationship between the show and sustainability, things get a little muggy.
Before outlining the main issues with the sponsorship, the positives have to be expressed. Love Island’s choice to partner with eBay is a good thing, that is undeniable. There is a huge push toward moving away from having exactly the same clothes as the islanders and instead a focus on the aesthetic of each islander. You can ‘shop pre-loved bombshell looks’, but find pieces that match your own personal style. Love Island’s promotion of eBay is raising awareness of alternatives to fast fashion, which is a huge step in the right direction. Despite this, it is important to chat about the flaws in the partnership
There seemed to be a pre-show emphasis on gender neutrality which has definitely not translated onto screens
The first major issue uncovered surrounds the idea of re-wearability. This year, the Love Island contestants’ wardrobe has been selected by Amy Bannerman, who revealed in an interview with Vogue that the aim was to: “Demonstrate how different genders and body types can style the same piece.” There seemed to be a pre-show emphasis on gender neutrality which has definitely not translated onto screens. Aside from a red varsity jacket worn by contestant Tasha Ghouri in episode eight, this gender neutrality is missing in action. Furthermore, there is no obvious repetition of the same pieces on different islanders, and it appears they all have completely new outfits every evening. As a viewer, the message of restyling clothes you truly love as opposed to relying on new pieces does not come across at all. Buying pre-owned clothes from eBay will always be more environmentally friendly than using fast fashion brands, but if you are regularly buying new clothes (regardless of the site), then the sustainability impact is lost.
The second issue is one that cannot be fully realised until after Love Island’s finale in August as it deals with the aftermath of the show. It is commonplace that islanders regularly get high-profile deals with brands following their exits, most notably series five contestant Molly-Mae Hague recently became creative director at Pretty Little Thing. Following this logic, it is highly likely that some of this year’s contestants will work with fast fashion brands to create their own lines. This means the supposed move away from fast fashion that is indicated by Love Island’s partnership with eBay could be underdone once the islanders leave the villa. It is important to look at the impact of the programme outside of its time on television screens: the islanders often become influencers in their own right, and therefore their actions will be seen by thousands (if not millions) of people. Additionally, they will not lose their relationship with Love Island, and the actions of past contestants still represent a reflection of the show. If an islander releases a clothing line with a fast fashion brand, then it is likely fans of the show will buy it and this will, in effect, continue the narrative that connects Love Island with fast fashion. This means the push towards sustainability is undermined and presents mixed messages to viewers of the show.
It is clear that the partnership between eBay and Love Island is not perfect, and the show has not completely broken up with fast fashion. Despite this, it is vital to praise this move as a step in the right direction, Love Island is attempting to promote sustainability to its wide audience and for that, it must be applauded. The hope is that it takes these first steps and implements them in a greater manner with later seasons. For example, a lot of the toiletries in the show could be swapped for more eco-friendly alternatives. However, it is important to highlight the increased visibility of pre-loved items that Love Island is attempting to promote, and it is clear the show’s relationship with fast fashion is on the rocks, and we just have to hope they break up soon.