When we read the headlines—Love Island Dumps Fast Fashion! Ebay Sponsor Saves Environment!—and buckle in for a series of feel-good clothing underscored by an “eat, sleep, rewear, repeat” mentality, we don’t expect much from it. But two weeks into ITV2’s holiday dating camp, how many repeat wears have we witnessed aside from the criminal espadrille wedges Love Islanders are wedded to, and the Yeezy-style slides even Kanye West struggles to pull off (sorry Luca)? This year’s ITV2 series got off to a promising start. With contestants wearing a mix of their own clothes and pre-loved pieces sourced from Ebay by stylist Amy Bannerman, we witnessed Dami wearing a blue Pleats Please Issey Miyake shirt, Tasha modelling an old-school studded Diesel dress, and Amber sporting a Chanel brooch on her white jumpsuit. But then it was back to business as usual: contestant Maura wore fuchsia sequined shorts with a leopard print top and black heels; Anna wore floral trousers with patent leather loafers; Emma wore pink shorts with a neon crop top.
Love Island 2022 has been an explosion of barely-there bikinis and micro-minidresses from high-street brands, such as Asos, New Look and Oh Polly. Admittedly, there isn’t the same element of encouraging viewers to shop contestants’ Missguided or I Saw It First looks, as per previous years’ sponsors; however, it doesn’t take long to scour the internet in search of, say, Paige’s pink sequin swimwear (£40 at Sherbet Lemon).
The problem is that the islanders don’t seem excited about the fact that there’s a vintage treasure trove at their fingertips. Rather than being shipped bundles of cheap, quick-turnaround clothes—styles that sponsors usually flog after the hopefuls have worn them on TV—Bannerman’s team curated an in-house Ebay edit of major archive hits by Gucci, Prada, Dior and Versace and high-street gems from old favorites, such as Bay Trading, Tammy Girl and Morgan. There has been no mention of how nostalgic it is to see Kate Moss for Topshop on the rails (perhaps they’re too young to appreciate this?), or footage of the girls fighting about who gets to wear a particularly good Balmain dress first (sharing clothes is also the green-conscious aim of the season). This could be because there hasn’t been much talking period.
Second, there is no signage directing viewers to all the fashion that Ebay has been sourcing on behalf of Bannerman’s for weeks. The poignant themes they curated, from the gender-fluid “Blurred Lines” to the compilation of classics, called “Love Me Forever” are not indicated in any way. Unless you are familiar with the work of Christopher Kane and Browns, you might need help identifying that niche dress. All Ebay is offering is generic advertisements during frequent Love Island breaks. “Any attempt at normalizing second-hand fashion can only be a good thing, but if viewers don’t know whether contestants are wearing pre-loved clothing, it’s hard to know how much of a tangible difference it will make to their shopping habits,” says British Vogue’s senior sustainability and features editor Emily Chan. “It’s a start, but there’s a long way to go before we see widespread cultural change.”
Six more weeks of island life remain. The tanned and toned participants may run out of Mistress Rocks, Femme Luxe and Club L. The opportunity to help shift the narrative around the value of fashion is too precious to waste. Ditto the chance to promote individualism over one homogenous dresscode—one of the reasons Bannerman signed up for the job. Someone wear the Versace, please.