Image Description: A side-by-side Molly-Mae before and after Love Island.
For those who know Love Island, Molly Mae Hague is one of their greatest achievements. Coming in second with her boyfriend Tommy Fury in 2019, she has far exceeded the post-villa trajectory of the previous candidate. Amassing over 6 million Instagram followers and lending her name to several clothing collections, as well as a successful personal blog and celebrity appearances to her credit, Molly Mae can rightly say that she is “No longer just an influencer”.
Indeed, she is now Creative Director at Pretty Little Thing, the infamous fast fashion label co-founded by Manchester brothers Umar and Adam Kamani in 2012 before being taken over by their father Boohoo’s company. From 2020 their turnover was Â£ 519.3million therefore this promotion is not to be despised. However, despite Molly Mae’s determined stance that she is no longer just an influencer, she fails to see that she is still an influencer.
âWith more and more calls for governments to make meaningful changes to try and slow global warming, public support and promotion for Molly Mae of such a damaging fast fashion retailer looks a bit like a slap in the face â
In recent years, and rightly so, companies such as PLT, Boohoo, ASOS and many other online fast fashion retailers have come under fire for their environmental and ethical impact. Research by the Royal Society for the Arts (RSA) charity looked at 10,000 items sold by Boohoo, Prettylittlething, Missguided and Asos and found that on average 49% were made of polyester, acrylic, nylon, and elastane. In addition to concluding that 60% of Boohoo’s womenswear and 57% of Boohoo-owned Prettylittlething were made entirely from new plastics. The result is that around 1.2 billion tonnes of carbon emissions are produced by the global fashion industry (2015). At a time when (young) people increasingly realize that it might be too late to stop climate change, and with increasing calls for governments to make meaningful changes to try to slow global warming, public support and promotion of such damaging a fast fashion retailer looks a bit like a slap in the face.
It may be unfair to place the blame entirely on Molly Mae; Love Island has partnered with several fashion retailers who, at the end of the show, offer the majority of the promotional offers to contestants. However, no previous competitor has reached such dizzying heights, and none has had a table seat before. Molly Mae’s influential if not influencing power has been recognized and harnessed by the brand to drive sales. Instead of Molly Mae calling for better working conditions for staff at her Leicester factories (a Sunday Times report found workers at the factory producing clothing for Boohoo’s Nasty Gal range were not earning more than Â£ 3.50 an hour), or a reduction in the amount of clothing the company produces each month, she spread the news on social media without, apparently, caring about the world.
“Molly Mae, it seems, has slept with one of the UK’s most influential and successful fashion retailers at the expense of the environment and the well-being of her workers.”
Pretty Little Thing has attempted to address concerns about their environmental and employment practices by appointing a former High Court judge, Sir Brain Leveson, to independently review the company’s level of ethics. They also pledged, by the fall, to make 20% of the clothes they sell sustainable and by summer to increase this figure to 40%. And, while this superficially seems like a step in the right direction, I can’t help but think it’s just greenwashing. When interviewed for Newsbeat, Molly Mae insisted that she is “a strong supporter of wearing the same dress twice” and just to prove that she said “I even captioned one from my Instagram pics the other day saying ‘PSA it’s good to wear the same dress twice’ – it’s a bad habit we have got girls, like you put it on Instagram, that means that you can no longer wear it.
But nonetheless, as many of us know, wearing the same dress twice instead of once before throwing it away is hardly sustainable and suggests a complete stagnation in the brand’s and its partners’ thinking about harmful effects of fast fashion on the environment. This rather cavalier attitude was reflected in an exclusive interview with the BBC, Boohoo CEO John Lyttle, who claimed that brands and the company neither embrace nor encourage a throwaway culture. He said fast fashion is often thought of as âbuy it, wear it once and then I throw it away,â but the company’s business data just doesn’t reflect that. When the practice of buying more and more clothes without needing more was taken further, Lyttle simply said “the reality is, we all have to wear clothes.”
Molly Mae, it seems, has slept with one of the UK’s most influential and successful fashion retailers at the expense of the environment and the well-being of her workers. And, instead of using its platform to call for greater change, is committed to pursuing pre-existing and damaging practices. Despite her protests, Molly Mae Hague is still a great influencer, and like it or not, influencer decisions weigh in with expectation and influence, and I’m disappointed that someone under such a spotlight is wasting so. his celebrity status.
Image credits: @mollymae on instagram
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