how the reality show could model a radically sustainable future for its young viewers


A recently announced The partnership between ITV reality show Love Island and second-hand e-commerce giant eBay sends a strong positive signal about prioritizing sustainability over fast fashion.

After receiving a strong backlash against Love Island’s promotion of fast fashion brands such as I saw it first and Missguidedthe show’s executive producer, Mike Spencer, announced that he would work with eBay in 2022 to dress the contestants of his current series in “pre-loved” clothing.

Love Island enjoys huge audience ratings among young people. Some 43% of Love Island viewers are under 30, and 16-34 year olds represent a third of viewers of the series premiere on June 6. Thus, the show has the power to influence young people’s shopping habits, largely thanks to the official Love Island app where viewers can “buy the show” to find promoted beauty and fashion items. by the candidates. The producers hope that by linking viewers to eBay – where they’ll find a curated selection of “Island inspired” outfits – they will be encouraged to buy used instead.

App partnerships allow viewers to purchase styles similar to those seen on screen.

It’s a small step in the right direction to make sustainable living more accessible and fun. But more needs to be done to change the pervasive association between popular culture and consumerism.

Attracting sustainable consumers

Love Island and its influential candidatesincluding the creative director of PrettyLittleThing Molly Mae Hague, are known to boost fashion trends. In previous years, online fashion sales increased by more than a tenth during the eight-week summer period when the show airs. Early reports suggest this year will be no different, with eBay searches for dresses similar to those seen on competitors so far. 200%.

Sustainability advocates including former Love Island contestant, model and fashion influencer Brett Staniland, argued that the show endorses a disposable attitude towards fashion. For many, this was embodied in the show’s promotion of The Missguided £1 Bikini, at a price low enough to be considered disposable. In contrast, the show’s decision to partner with eBay is expected to attract a new audience for the culture of reuse message compared to the sustainability messages of people usually targeted.

Read more: Love Island ditches fast fashion: How reality celebrities are influencing the habits of young shoppers

Sustainable consumption is to recognize the environmental impact of our lifestyles and resolve to consume less. Moving away from disposable and reusing in all sectors of society – not just fashion – relies on cooperation between governments, businesses and citizens.

But motivating people to consider environmental concerns when it comes to shopping is hardnot least because we are bombarded with images that equate success or “the good life” with high levels of material consumption. Advertisers work hard to convince us that we need the latest car, gadget or fashion item to live a fulfilling life.

Rows of workers operate sewing machines inside a factory hall
The fast fashion industry has been criticized for exploiting workers and harming the environment.
Flickr/ILO Asia-Pacific, CC BY-NC

Another challenge is to make sustainable lifestyles appealing to the general public, rather than just affluent middle-class consumerswho are already the most receptive sustainable consumption campaigns.

Read more: 5 ways to steer consumers towards sustainable behavior

Living sustainably often means giving up the things we love (including cars, meat, or vacations) and allowing our individual freedoms to be restricted for the sake of it. common good. And reviews of consumerism have linked good citizenship to restrained spending and deprivation of material pleasures.

Collaborations like the one between Love Island and eBay – as well as other popular campaigns such as worn 30 times, which encourages us to buy clothes only if we wear them at least 30 times – can play an important role in changing these ideas. Above all, they often succeed because they work with consumer culture recognizing that we buy clothes for communicate our identitiesdisplay our social status and maintain social relationships (as well as for fun).

Two people look at a pink sweater in a store
Sustainability is often targeted at the wealthiest people.

They also tap into our existing anxieties about fast fashion by introducing other options. Philosopher Kate Soper’s concept of “alternative hedonism” recognizes how, in the face of the negative effects of consumption, it can be deeply satisfying to reduce its impact for the benefit of the world around us. This feeling of satisfaction helps to challenge social stigma around second-hand clothing, as well as promoting sustainability among those who cannot afford high-end eco-friendly fashion.

Go further

But the impact of this partnership should not be overestimated. Those who watch the show – but perhaps not the news – would be forgiven for missing it entirely, given that there has yet to be a mention of second-hand clothes on Love Island itself. In fact, what’s more likely to stand out is the lure of luxurious overseas vacations and the multiple beauty and fashion items depicted in dressing room scenes.

And cutting down on consumption is certainly not the message that underpins the show’s economics: with big brands advertising during breaks, in-app purchases enabled across multiple social media platforms, and contestants likely to become brand influencers after the show is over.

Read more: Our Addiction to Stuff: How Walmart Allows Us to Destroy the Planet

But if it was for lead by example, Love Island could ditch conspicuous drinking entirely. Since many unsustainable behaviors are leads by convenience, comfort and social norms, the show could promote collaborative consumption In place.

This could mean a group kitchen, which reduces food waste and device energy consumptionor one “fashion library” encouraging increased use of each garment. There would certainly be entertainment value in watching competitors swap clothes or harvest local produce: or even walk through British mud in a glamping-style scenario. Love Island is already showing the good and bad of dating – it’s time it became reality when it comes to sustainability too.


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