Could Ditching Fast Fashion Turn The Tide For Love Island?
Love Island may churn out some happy couples with cash prizes, but fast fashion has long been its biggest winner.
In previous seasons, the likes of I Saw It First (whose dresses start from £12) and Missguided (which has frocks available for under £4) have secured the gig of styling the ITV show. And the promotion doesn’t stop when everyone flies home: the most popular contestants are hired as ambassadors for brands like Boohoo, while Molly-Mae Hague from the 2019 series has become creative director of PrettyLittleThing.
In other words, Love Island really sells clothes.
This matters, of course, because fast fashion is an environmental disaster. It’s so cheap (and therefore poorly made) that customers are happy to wear it only once or twice, often for social media – and then bin it. In the US, 11.3 million tons of textiles waste went into landfill in 2018 alone, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
And so it’s significant news that this year, Love Island will partner with eBay instead, with the islanders wearing second-hand pieces, instead of being kitted out in fast fashion as is usually the case. Amy Bannerman, a stylist who has worked with Dua Lipa, Sophie Turner and Jonathan Van Ness, will curate their wardrobes, and the contestants will also be encouraged to bring in – shock, horror – their own favourite clothes from home. “We strive to be a more eco-friendly production,” said executive producer Mike Spencer, “with more focus on ways in which we can visibly show this on screen.”
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Former Love Island contestant Molly-Mae Hague is now the creative director of PrettyLittleThing. Antony Jones
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It’s refreshing news from a show that’s desperately in need of it. Viewing figures for Love Island dropped last year, and even the most devoted fans feel that it’s become stale. Its neon-sexy, underboob-baring aesthetic, which makes islanders look strangely bland and interchangeable, is part of the problem: perhaps in the new series, we’ll get more individual style.
It’s also that it all feels superficial in comparison to a newer wave of more romantic dating shows, like Netflix’s Love Is Blind and E4’s Married At First Sight Australia (which has been running for years but became a big hit in the UK during the pandemic).
On Married At First Sight Australia, the focus is on relationship counselling, emotional intimacy and compromise. Meanwhile on last year’s Love Island, the challenges felt painfully retro: the women had to dress up as sexy police officers or Playboy bunnies, while the men were cowboys or gladiators. Games in which islanders act out sex positions, are dared to snog or lick people they’ve just met, and perform lap dances in lingerie continue to be an annual staple. While there’s no suggestion that anybody is forced to go ahead with these, it’s hard to imagine giving meaningful consent with a camera pointed at you.
Many of Love Island’s harshest elements did disappear in the wake of three suicides associated with the show, with the deaths of 2016 contestant Sophie Gradon, 2017’s Mike Thalassitis and presenter Caroline Flack laying bare the challenges of overnight fame and tabloid culture. The practice of showing islanders footage of what their partners are doing behind their backs, for example, was dropped for a while, due to the emotional distress it causes and the fact that it turns islanders into villains in the public eye.
But that returned in 2021, with the need for sensitivity apparently forgotten. The show also continues to restrict itself to cisgender, straight contestants, and while you can see that it might be complicated to change that, it all adds up to a show that’s out of step with where we’re at in 2022.
It’s clear that Love Island is in need for a reinvention on all fronts this summer. Let’s hope that the shift in approach to fashion is the start of a much bigger sea-change.
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