Love Island is back. The hit UK reality show returns on 6th June 2022 and, if past seasons are anything to go by, you’ll be hearing about the trysts and travails of its contestants nonestop over the summer.
For those unfamiliar with the show’s format, a group of contestants (all of whom typically adhere to conventional beauty standards) live together in isolation in a villa on the Spanish island of Majorca. The contestants must couple up with one another or risk eviction — while the public can also regularly vote on their favourite couples to save them from removal, too.
The show has spawned countless spin offs in other countries, while at home in the UK, it's a cultural phenomenon and one of broadcaster ITV’s most popular creations. With new episodes daily and contestants who eagerly romance and recouple with one another, Love Island is crafted to create a constant buzz — particularly on social media.
Its popularity also means that the show is an ideal vehicle for brands looking to promote themselves to a large and engaged audience — and this year is no exception. The show’s brand partnerships are a big deal but, for the latest season, we're seeing a fundamental shift in its approach.
Fast Fashion Brand Partnerships Dumped
The big news here is that Love Island’s official fashion partner for the series — the supplier of the wardrobe that the contestants have access to during their time on the island — will be eBay! In a clear “statement against fast fashion”, the show’s Islanders will “wear pre-loved items this season, with a shared wardrobe situated in the new villa.”
In prior seasons, Love Island has partnered with fast fashion brands such as Missguided and I Saw It First — and items worn by contestants “could sell out in minutes” on retailers websites.
This latest announcement represents a big shift in the show’s image as it strives to be "a more eco-friendly production." Although eBay isn’t exclusively a marketplace for second-hand clothing, the brand confirmed that “anything sourced from eBay for the purpose of the campaign will be second hand.” Consumers inspired by the show can “shop the look” either through the Love Island app or on eBay’s website in order to purchase “simliar items to those seen on screen.”
Though a recent report from second-hand fashion retailer ThredUP threw cold water on the notion that Gen Z are abandoning fast fashion en-masse, the move by Love Island comes as a greater share of consumers are considering the environmental impact of their purchases. Indeed, ThredUP’s research did reveal that 43% of those who bought fast fashion items felt guilty afterwards and 65% aspired to buy more second hand clothing in the future.
Fashion commentators are predicting that the move could bring the notion of second-hand fashion to a mainstream audience and perhaps even “signals the beginning of the end for our fast-fashion obsession”
The Risks and Rewards of Love Island
eBay joins a host of brands that have partnered up with the reality TV hit — from UberEats, Superdrug, Ministry Of Sound, VO5, and Reddit, which now hosts the official fan community page as of 2022.
As the most tweeted about show of 2018 and 2019, it’s no surprise that brands have clamored to be associated with it in any way or form possible. However, with increased popularity, it has also come under increased scrutiny — particularly for it’s approach to the mental health of the contestants and the issue of body diversity.
“Following the tragic suicides of two former contestants – Sophie Gradon and Mike Thalassitis – within just nine months of each other”, the show’s original host, TV presenter Caroline Flack, also tragically took her own life in 2020.
In order to address crticisms that were subsequently leveled at the show, Love Island’s producers “implemented enhanced psychological support for the fifth series” that included “'bespoke training’ on social media and financial management, as well as discussions on how the islanders can manage their expectations of the process”.
Brands that partner with Love Island are taking a calculated risk as they attempt to ride the wave of popularity surrounding it. Indeed, as a reality TV show, anything could happen, especially once the cameras stop rolling and there’s a real possibility the show could lose the good faith of its audience if more controversies follow.
While the show’s decision to wave the flag for second-hand fashion signals a step in a more contemplative direction, by the end of the summer there’s still a real possibility brands could have their name attached to a controversial show with negative brand associations.