With eBay sponsoring Love Island, is sustainable fashion going mainstream?

With eBay sponsoring Love Island, is sustainable fashion going mainstream?

ITV reality show Love Island announced a partnership with eBay last month, with this year’s contestants showcasing secondhand clothes instead of fast fashion pieces. And just last week, former sponsor Missguided was acquired by Frasers Group for £20m.

What does eBay’s decision tell us about the state of retail? And what will be the impact of this partnership on consumers, as well as on other high-street and fast fashion brands?

ITV wants to inspire its demographics

Love Island has until now been synonymous with fast fashion, having partnered with brands like Missguided and I Saw It First since its inception. Candidates typically continue in that vein after they leave, leading influencer campaigns for brands like Boohoo and Nasty Gal, and in the case of Molly-Mae Hague, even being named creative director for the UK and the UK. from Pretty Little Thing. Naturally, this trend has drawn criticism, with the show called for perpetuating a disposable attitude towards clothing and contributing to the wider environmental and ethical issues surrounding fast fashion.

This year, Love Island has decided it’s time for a change and is teaming up with eBay second-hand market as a sponsor. He announced that the contestants will wear second-hand or “pre-loved” clothes instead of new pieces.

Commenting on the news, the show’s executive producer, mike spencer said“As a show, we are striving to be a more environmentally friendly production by focusing more on ways to show that visibly on screen…. We aim to inspire our demographics and show that ‘there are incredible discoveries to be made and how sharing is, in a way, benevolent.

While Spencer suggests ITV’s partnership with eBay is about inspiring viewers, it’s also an indication of changing attitudes among young consumers – and behavior that is already taking place.

According to ThredUp Resale Report 2022, second-hand fashion displaced nearly a billion new clothing purchases in 2021 that would normally have been purchased new. Meanwhile, ThredUp found that nearly two in three consumers who buy fast fashion say they yearn to buy more clothes and second-hand clothes instead.

Commitment to the cause will build trust with consumers

The pandemic has undoubtedly played a role in shifting consumer priorities, with young shoppers in particular taking the time to reconsider their purchasing choices and pushing organizations to be more goal-oriented.

Nigel Naylor-Smith, head of retail and hospitality at Fujitsu UK, told Econsultancy that behavior has since moved from consideration to action.

“The The shift in consumer mindset and behavior was further exacerbated by COP26, which showed that sustainable fashion must be a priority to reverse climate change,” he said. “Without a doubt, the Love Island Partnerships team will have listened, monitored and understood that millennials and Gen Z are invested in the eco-movement, which means their priorities are very different from those of previous generations. .”

But is it just a publicity stunt? Naylor-Smith suggests no, and it may be too high profile for ITV to risk tarnishing its reputation as an ethical broadcaster.

“By endorsing Love Island’s ‘pre-liked items’, it not only shows their commitment to the cause, but it also allows them to build trust with consumers – a vital trait for the younger generation who are exposed to many large amounts of information online, and if they are seen to be greenwashing, they will certainly be challenged and asked to produce hard evidence.

Climate change isn’t the only reason the partnership could resonate with consumers, of course, with the rising cost of living also pushing people to seek more cost-effective alternatives to the high street or fad. quick disposable. Indeed, ThredUp found that the number one reason Gen Z buys second-hand clothes is to save money, followed by a desire to be more sustainable, and then to have more fun while shopping.

Technology makes it easier to buy and sell second-hand clothes

So it looks like the resale market is growing, and while eBay has been around for years, new online marketplaces are now fueling this trend, with technology making it easier for people to buy and sell clothes than ever before.

We certainly see proof of this – Vinted posted a 63% increase in revenue year over year for 2021. Meanwhile, Depop’s huge growth was recognized when it was purchased by Etsy in 2021 for $1.6 billion.

Like McKinsey Anita Balchandani explains in the “McKinseys on Startup” podcast, new resale platforms fuel new consumer priorities. “I think more and more the ability to extend the life of an item of clothing or an object has very powerful potential, in terms of what it can do on the carbon footprint of consumption, everything by satisfying the intrinsic desire that we as consumers have for novelty and self-expression,” she said.

Indeed, new apps and marketplaces are designed not only to cater to the desire to shop secondhand, but they also provide a seamless (and addictive) experience, giving users an endless aisle of inspiration and the ability to discover new ways to express themselves. Consequently, we also see fashion brands themselves embracing second-hand markets, in a push for overall industry change. As McKinsey editor Daniel Eisenberg explains, “While a few years ago many actors seemed wary of these new models, others are really starting to take part. They partner with online resale marketplaces and engage their customers, while ensuring the brand remains a key part of the equation.

An example of this is Target, which recently partnered with resale-as-a-service platform ThredUp, to test launch a used clothing initiative. As part of the deal, Target will offer approximately 400,000 women’s and children’s items from its own brands, as well as others selected from ThredUp’s own line.

There are other signs that major retail brands are also embracing sustainability, with many investing in their own resale or rental initiatives to encourage circular fashion (in addition to partnering with third-party marketplaces) . French Connection recently became the first UK brand to set up its own rental service, frenchconnectionrental.com, allowing customers to rent clothes from its current collections rather than buying direct.

Is sustainable shopping becoming widespread?

So, is the opportunity really going mainstream? eBay’s partnership with Love Island will certainly help make second-hand clothing a mass trend rather than a niche cause.

Fujitsu UK’s Nigel Naylor-Smith says this is likely to have a big impact, not necessarily on consumers, but on other brands and broadcasters.

“…the partnership with eBay has generated the positive publicity they need to maintain their relevance. This is arguably just the beginning of the trend between reality TV and lasting partnerships.

ITV isn’t completely turning its back on fast fashion, of course, with campaigns still appearing in Love Island commercial breaks. Competitors should always be chosen by these brands when they come out of the villa as well.

However, an innovative aspect of Love Island – demonstrated in more recent series – is that it allows viewers to purchase what they see on the show in real time. Because the clothes are second-hand, viewers probably won’t be able to buy the exact items this year, but they’ll still be able to shop similar styles through the app’s ‘Shop the Show’ tab, as well as get their own ‘Pre-Love Island look’ through the ITV Love Island hub.

Perhaps the proof of a real or lasting shift towards sustainable retail will be in sales – although eBay is seeing the same sort of uptick that Missguided did in its heyday that remains to be seen. Either way, it’s a powerful message, and any positive action for eBay will soon tell us if consumers are really buying.

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