Fast fashion: why Love Island and Too Hot to Handle don't help the fight against mass produced clothing

Two of the most talked about dating shows, ITV’s Love Island and Netflix’s Too Hot to Handle, are back on our screens - and they’ve got viewers hooked.

It seems people can’t get enough of watching young men and women laze around in their swimwear, while trying to build romantic relationships with each other, with the ultimate goal of winning loads of cash.

As well as becoming synonymous with sex, these shows have also become known for showcasing the latest fashion.

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As a viewer, the only thing more irritating than the empty conversations of the contestants is the fact that they never wear the same item of clothing twice.

The contestants on Love Island and Too Hot to Handle not only change clothes each day - but they’ll change several times throughout an episode. This photograph is (C) ITV Plc

The more episodes I watched, the more it made me uncomfortable. Firstly, this just isn’t realistic. With each of these shows, the cast members who take part are on a remote island together for weeks on end, filmed day in, day out. That means they have to think about what they are wearing every minute of the day in a way that isn’t reflective of real life.

Not only do these contestants change clothes each day - but they’ll change several times throughout an episode. While they may spend their days by the pool in swimwear, their nightly parties seem to require the women to wear a new dress and heels and the men to wear a new shirt and shorts each time.

What happens to all of these clothes that are just worn once on-screen? Do they join the 21 billion tons of textiles that end up in landfills each year?

According to UN figures, of the 100 billion items produced yearly, 14 for each human on the planet, three in five will be discarded within the year. A growing number of items are also discarded after just one use.

That can’t be allowed to continue. It’s terrible for the environment and terrible for our bank balances too.

In a real-life situation there’s no way that anyone could have at least one completely new outfit every single day. On a practical level, think of the wardrobe space it would take to store all these clothes, and the cash you’d need to sustain your shopping habit. It’s not sustainable at all.

The contestants in these shows don’t have to worry about that at all, of course. The show producers have contracts with certain fashion companies so that the new clothes are sent for them to wear, meaning the contestants become brand ambassadors overnight.

Presenting the idea that wearing a new outfit every day is a ‘normal’ thing to do is giving viewers - especially young people - the unrealistic notion that this is something that is achievable for everyone, and indeed it’s what we should all be doing.

It’s no surprise, therefore, that Greenpeace estimates that around £360 billion is lost each year, not only because of the under-wearing of clothes but also the failure to recycle them when they are no longer wanted.

It’s about time that these shows take some social responsibility and show the viewers what it’s really like to be on holiday for a few days, let alone weeks, or go out on multiple dates - you inevitably end up wearing the same clothes again.

Lindsay Edwards, a personal stylist based in Bedfordshire, says “My frustration with these shows is their continued reinforcement that each day requires a brand new outfit. It glamourises a throw-away society which we should all play our part in challenging.

“Not only is the concept of fast fashion detrimental to our bank balance, but it has a severe effect upon the environment too.

“Personally, I’d much rather watch the contestants wear a repeated selection of their clothes, in a variety of ways - now that’d show an obtainable level of creativity for us all to be inspired by.”

I would also like to see the contestants on these shows demonstrate how you can make an outfit look completely different simply by changing the shoes and other accessories that you pair with it.

The good news is that the State of Fashion Report 2021 has found that two thirds of clothing shoppers say that sustainability is more important to them today than it was before the Covid-19 crisis.

The producers of these shows need to start paying attention to these shifting attitudes in society. It would be much more beneficial for young people, and also our planet, if the contestants on these shows could use their influence to promote a more sustainable and realistic way of dressing.