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The Guardian - UK
The Guardian - UK
Lauren Cochrane

Love Island partners with eBay to dress contestants in secondhand outfits

Fast fashion company, I Saw It First, has sponsored Love Island for the last three years.
Fast fashion company, I Saw It First, has sponsored Love Island for the last three years. Photograph: Jonathan Hordle/REX/Shutterstock

Love Island is always a fertile ground for fashion trends with contestants often wearing several outfits in each episode. But this season, those outfits will be different – they will be secondhand.

Contestants on the reality TV show, which is back on air next month, will be provided with a wardrobe of preloved pieces to wear after ITV partnered with eBay.

It is a big shift for Love Island. For the last three years, the fast fashion company I Saw It First – which sells clothes for as little as £2.80 – has sponsored the show and provided clothes and accessories for contestants.

But the show has changed tack after criticism from sustainability advocates for encouraging a disposable attitude to fashion.

While contestants will also wear their own clothes this season, they are being encouraged to take an “eat, sleep, rewear, repeat” attitude to their outfits.

Announcing the partnership, Mike Spencer, the executive producer of Love Island, said: “As a show, we strive to be a more eco-friendly production with more focus on ways in which we can visibly show this on screen … This partnership will see our islanders get to dive into the shared wardrobes, and help themselves to some incredible preloved clothes sourced from eBay.”

Jemma Tadd, the head of fashion buying at eBay, believes the reach of the show has the power to change consumers’ perceptions around secondhand clothes. “Love Island is a worldwide phenomenon, nobody can deny it,” she says. “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.”

With viewing figures reaching up to 3 million people an episode, the influence of Love Island on what consumers buy is well-documented. I Saw It First had a 67% increase in sales and a 254% increase in Instagram followers in 2019. When contestant Molly-Mae Hague wore one of their dresses, it sold out in 10 minutes. Last year, Millie Court, who went on to win the show, was the most influential when it came to style. Online searches for “marble dress” rose by 127% and searches for “hot pink co-ords” went up by 114% when she wore those items.

The contestants this year will demonstrate how stylish secondhand clothes can be, and do away with any remaining stigmas around pre-owned clothes.

Tadd sees this as the biggest win. “Seeing preloved fashion being celebrated on screen, and being talked about, is going to help everyone understand just how easy it is to achieve these fashion leading looks,” she says.

Amy Bannerman, who has worked with celebrities including Dua Lipa, Rita Ora and Lena Dunham, will be styling the contestants, and viewers will be able to “shop the show” on the Love Island app, with eBay finds available.

The move to secondhand style is in line with Love Island’s 16- to 34-year-old demographic. Research conducted by eBay showed that those aged 18 to 34 have the highest average percentage of secondhand clothes in their wardrobe (22%), compared with 12% for the over-55s. Eighty per cent of Gen Z, those under 24, have recently bought something secondhand.

Tadd argues that the partnership could encourage a change in shopping habits. “We’re not saying wear everything preloved, that’s not who we are as creatures,” she says. “But I think it’s about little swaps or additions we can make in a wardrobe. Ultimately, that makes it a step in the right direction.”

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