Hit reality dating show Love Island has announced it is coupling up with global resale site eBay to dress contestants entering the villa for the upcoming eighth season.
It was widely assumed that this season, which will air on Neon, would see islanders in a host of fast fashion, as they have previously, but the often criticised show is making a move away from such lucrative deals in an effort to ditch its throwaway fashion image.
While contestants will still be allowed to wear their own clothes (the most sustainable outfit choice is one you already own), they’ll be encouraged to also pull pre-loved looks from an eBay wardrobe at the new Love Island villa.
Announcing the partnership, Love Island executive producer Mike Spencer said the change reflects a desire, “to be a more eco-friendly production with more focus on ways in which we can visibly show this on screen”.
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Jemma Tadd, the head of fashion buying at eBay, is confident the partnership will change perceptions around secondhand clothes.
“It’s a really exciting opportunity for us to change the conversation around fashion. I really hope that is going to lead to meaningful change in the industry.”
The inclusion of a secondhand wardrobe in the Love Island villa is a surprising and admirable move from the show. Despite a judicious use of reusable water bottles, the ratings juggernaut has enjoyed a cosy relationship with several super cheap ultra-fast fashion brands in the past, including Missguided and Boohoo.
As thred writer Flo Bellinger pointed out, the show is arguably “more famous for churning out fashion influencers than it is loved up couples”.
Some past contestants have gone one step further, leveraging their appearances on the show and subsequent influencer appeal into fully fledged careers in the fast fashion industry. Season five contestant Molly Mae Hague was announced as creative director of the brand PrettyLittleThing in 2021.
The influence of the show in relation to clothing sales, and the opportunity to move the needle away from fast fashion, is immense. UK online brand I Saw It First saw a 67% spike in sales and a 254% increase in Instagram followers when it sponsored the show 2019.
The move to secondhand style is likely to appeal to Love Island’s younger demographic who are becoming increasingly conscious of the impact that their shopping habits are having on the environment.
Research released by eBay alongside their sponsorship announcement shows that in the UK, 80% of Gen Z, those under 24, have recently bought something secondhand.
This is mirrored locally by 2021 TradeMe’s SecondHand Economy report which surveyed 4000 New Zealanders and found that 78% of Millennials and 73% of Gen Z respondents would consider purchasing secondhand.
The real test of the show’s commitment to the secondhand cause may be whether we see contestants donning pre-loved bikinis on screen.