Love Island mugs off fast fashion.

Written by
Tori McBride

Insights by
Ben Montagu-Scott

27 Jun, 2022

Step aside, Missguided and I Saw It First, Love Island has its eye on a new girl in the villa, eBay. After intense backlash, the popular ITV reality show has dumped its climate guzzling, fast fashion sponsors and partnered with eBay UK in an effort to set this year’s singles up with ‘pre-loved’ fashion.

After seven seasons, the decision to have all contestants wear second-hand items marks a surprising, yet timely shift towards sustainability within fashion. In the wake of statistics estimating that the fashion industry is responsible for 10% of annual global carbon emissions, younger consumers in particular are waking up to the impact their fashion choices are having on the environment.

In fact, research has shown that 22% of the clothes owned by 18 to 34 year olds are secondhand, which is the highest percentage of any age group. And with 43% of the show’s viewers under the age of 30, it's easy to see why ITV chose to switch to a sponsor more aligned to the views and values of their demographic.

So, how has the Love Island audience reacted to this new partnership? To answer this question, we took to the Fifty platform to analyse the reaction of different online communities. Our Insights Team built a bespoke social listening study to monitor the sentiment amongst those talking about ‘pre-loved fashion’  in the context of ‘Love Island’ on social media.

Figure 1: Fifty 'network viz' of the Love Island x Pre-Loved Fashion audience in the UK.
Figure 1: Fifty 'network viz' of the Love Island x Pre-Loved Fashion audience in the UK.

Mainstream Entertainment Fans

Age emerged as a key factor for online engagement with Love Island’s eco-conscious rebrand. The largest tribe, Mainstream Entertainment Fans, is an audience that is typically dominated by 2010s celebrities and wider Millennial culture, yet it is significantly more Gen Z-focused in this study. Younger stars, such as Stormzy and Zendaya, replaced the likes of Fearne Cotton and Jessie J, illustrating how the show has gained popularity amongst a new generation of viewers with an appetite for new attitudes towards sustainability and consumerism.

Figure 2: Mainstream Entertainment Fans emerged as the largest tribe within the study.
Figure 2: Mainstream Entertainment Fans emerged as the largest tribe within the study.

Contemporary Culture Enthusiasts

Further validating the Gen Z interest in the partnership are the Contemporary Culture Enthusiasts. As a tribe with distinctly youthful interests, such as Grime, Hip-Hop and Fashion & Style, their presence in this study supports the narrative that eBay’s partnership has placed them at the intersection between style and purpose, both of which are key motivating factors amongst the youth. It’s tribes like these that demonstrate how eBay’s commitment to pre-loved fashion is providing the e-commerce platform with crucial brand exposure to a young, trendy audience who may not readily associate eBay with a trading space for fashion.

Figure 3:
Figure 3: Top influencers amongst Contemporary Culture Enthusiasts span the Hip Hop, Fashion and Film worlds.

Trendy Students

The next largest audience was Trendy Students. Their wide ranging passions - from dance music and style publications, to relationships, and education - illustrate that audiences supporting secondhand fashion are far from static. Whilst currently Gen-Z skewing, this audience will eventually become the education providers, doctors, lawyers, and professionals running our society. Their future-facing interests suggest that slow fashion will become an increasingly important socio-political issue, hence why the brands of today need to start embracing sustainability if they want to attract the customers of tomorrow.

Figure 4: Key interests amongst Gen Z Students included Music, Relationships and Apparel.
Figure 4: Key interests amongst Gen Z Students included Music, Relationships and Apparel.

Politically Engaged Progressives

We also uncovered a group of Politically-Engaged Progressives, a more senior, professional tribe engaged with current affairs, politics, and culture. Their presence illustrates not only the increasing politicisation of the climate debate, but also that of fast fashion and the wider human impacts of the production and consumption of cheap clothing. The fact that this audience is engaging with ‘pre-loved fashion’ indicates how fast fashion has become a key talking point within the wider conversations around human rights and global equity.

Figure 5: Top bio keywords amongst Politically Engaged Professionals included 'author', 'journalist' and 'activist'.
Figure 5: Top bio keywords amongst Politically Engaged Professionals included 'author', 'journalist' and 'activist'.

Conclusion

This influx of on-trend, purpose-driven viewers that have arisen in this study speaks to the power of partnerships in helping brands align themselves with their audiences’ core values. By coupling up with eBay, Love Island has sparked a wider conversation around ethical consumption and, in doing so, has successfully attracted a new generation of viewers with interests that span far beyond fashion and reality TV. Our study suggests that Love Island’s decision to switch up their sponsor resonated with a range of different audiences who are waking up to the fact that our planet can no longer afford fast fashion.

To find out how Fifty can help your brand unlock new audiences through the power of partnerships, get in touch with us at [email protected] or book a meeting with us directly.

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