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Meet the Love Islander taking a stand against fast fashion

Reality star Brett Staniland tells _shift about his sustainable stance

Brett Staniland joined Love Island season 7 in 2021, and since then he’s used his growing influence to widen the sustainable fashion conversation.

When we meet on Zoom his warm “of course” has a friendly ring to it, as I thank him for chatting. His demeanour is sincere. And so is his fashion credibility.

He is unlike a lot of love islanders who enter the fashion industry after the show with a wealth of fast fashion sponsorships and collections, such as Molly Mae Hague with Pretty Little Thing. Staniland has a deep connection with fashion and as a long time editor at large for Bond Official and sustainable fashion contributor to My Green Pod his sustainable approach is not just something he is trying on for size. Viewers didn’t see him too much in the show because he was too busy discussing fashion with the contestants.

Going against the grain as soon as he entered the villa, he declined clothing from then-sponsor fast fashion brand I Saw It First. He went on to normalise outfit repeating, redefined menswear with crop tops and introduced sharing wardrobes. He comments on fellow islander Teddy wearing his Katherine Hamnett and Patrick Mcdowell white denim jacket: “He loved it, he actually wanted to take it home but there was no way I was letting him do it.”

This authenticity has followed through since then: “When coming off the show last year it was really obvious that as soon as people get a really big following they see their followers as customers immediately.”

He continues: “For me like I want to chat to them and it’s a community to me.” This trickles into the content and jobs he takes attached the having a large platform. “I need to be able to tell good stories and be proud to put my name with all the brands that I put it with. It’s making sure that you’re really genuine and authentic online so ultimately that’s what I think people are going to start caring about more and more.”

Online we are used to seeing content creators brand themselves for more sponsorship and deals but sustainable fashion is not a side part of Staniland. Discussing all the interconnections in sustainable fashion such as consumers and the industry and government legislation I could feel his knowledge pouring through everything he said.

He mused on the fashion industry, how to use social media for conscious consumption and bringing a new perspective from a creative part of the ultra-fast fashion consumption of reality TV. Something he has so much knowledge on and spoke with such intelligence, candidly dropping when the first ever menswear show was, “1952 in Florence and the show was Brioni.”

He details how Italian brand Dolce and Gabbana – which he calls “a famous Italian fashion brand with two men who are problematic” – used to structure its show: “Each look was like someone’s job, an old Italian crafts person’s job. So to have like a tailor, a cobbler, fish monger, a hunter and their outfits were completely utilitarian built for purpose.”

His knowledge and role in the industry allows him to hold a magnifying glass up to social media and the people within it. He come across as reserved, turning down sponsorships, but there are glimmers of that perfect life coming through as he references the PR packages he’s been regifting, his perfect cream kitchen perfectly matched with his jumper and hair as he reflects on attending Paris fashion week frequently and how that has allowed him to realise people don’t care about outfit repeating. But what’s clear is his lack of absorption in that life wholesomely reflecting on going round to Aja Barber’s for a cup of tea the week before discussing sustainable fashion.

Lightly making a joke about how ‘Stacy in the Co-Op doesn’t mind if you outfit repeat’ he taps into what a consumer is looking for with this no-fuss approach to sustainable fashion.

“Like if you wear the same outfit twice people don’t actually give a shit or even if you posted it on Instagram and then wear it two weeks later and post it again, we don’t care.”

He says: “It’s considered your privilege of having a choice in the UK, because the people in the Global South who are being exploited don’t have a choice. And 80% of them are women of colour. And so whilst these brands will shout about empowering women and being progressive, they’re exploiting people, you don’t get to be aspirational if in your supply chain you’re exploiting these women.”

This is something that often puts people off of sustainable fashion: it is all or nothing, “There is trial and error. And I’m always like, lenient with people who are discovering their sense of style.”

Staniland des partner with companies that help people to do that in the right way: “I’ve got an ambassadorship with save your wardrobe at the minute.” It’s an app that digitises your wardrobe by taking photos of all your clothes. “And then in the app, put together outfits and you see what goes with what.”  

The affordability of fast fashion creates the ability to consume without thought, something Stanliand says he has had to change. “I looked at what I wore the most. And it was literally plain black T-shirts and plain white T-shirts. And they were 6.99 I think from H&M. and I probably went through 10 a year. And then you realise you’re spending like 80 odd quid instead, I went and bought two for 30 pounds from Asket.”

He admits his wardrobe is now quite large but says it has accumulated over time and sustainability: “Try and upcycle, recycle, reuse, re-wear and share your wardrobe.”

Working with what you’ve already got is the most straightforward approach into sustainable fashion: “I remember going in a store once and seeing, I think it was a hat like a beanie. And on the label, it said made from 100% recycled materials. But it meant the label. There needs to be massive punishments in place for things like this. And I’m going to do my best to put pressure on the government to make that happen.”

Staniland talks with authority about this, and he has the confidence to keep going: “It does not make any difference what you think of me that’s why I’m able to have so much confidence and be completely fine leaving the house every single day because I don’t need to validate what I wear.”

Long may that continue.

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