On Thursday (26th August 2021) it was announced that one of the most powerful influencers in the UK Molly-Mae Hague who has over 6 million Instagram followers has been named the new creative director for Pretty Little Thing UK and EU. She gained fame in 2019 following her appearance on Love Island subsequently landing a £500,000 brand ambassador deal for PLT followed by multiple other brand deals with various companies.
The fashion industry as whole is known to be the second largest polluting industry in the world, just after the oil industry and as the industry grows the environmental damage will get even worse. To make just one pair of jeans it takes around 7,500 litres of water, equivalent to the amount of water the average person drinks over a period of seven years.
By definition fast fashion is described as cheap trendy clothing made from unsustainable low-quality materials like polyester which cause clothes to degrade after only a few wears and can be created in extremely short turnaround times between when a trend is identified and the garments hits the shelves. This way of producing clothing has a significant impact on the planet as it cuts corners. This includes the use of cheap, toxic dyes which a recent report has identified that brands are helping drive pollution that has dyed African rivers blue or turned their waters as alkaline as bleach.
Pretty Little Thing is a global fast fashion company owned by Boohoo who recorded a record profit of £516.3 GBP million in 2020. They are also a brand that has faced a lot of criticism over the past few years due to multiple exploitive labour allegations. A report by The Sunday Times found that factories based in Leicester producing clothing for PLT were only paying its workers £3.50 an hour, less than half of the national minimum wage. PLT were also accused of not putting sufficient Covid-19 safety measures in their factory during the pandemic with workers not being able to socially distance, causing a Covid-19 outbreak in which multiple workers tested positive.
Molly-Mae becoming the new creative director is reported to be a multi-million pound deal, which proves how much profit these fast fashion brands have, despite not paying their workers minimum wage. Subsequently this announcement has come with Molly-Mae releasing another collection in which the majority of the clothes are all made from polyester, a fabric derived from plastic and fossil fuels. Additionally, photos of the new clothes posted by customers online also shows that what they are ordering are not of the quality or fit style of the garments pictured on the website. Leading to many people believing that the clothes she is modelling are tailored to her and not what is being sold to the general public.
This announcement has faced backlash from many, calling out whether she is qualified to take on this role and what her role will actually entail. There is no doubt that she will keep posting on her social media channels and promoting other brands. However, will she be going to all the meetings and do the work that a creative director from any other company would do? Or is this just more of an ambassador role in which she is the public face of the brand and will continue to create her collections and act as an ambassador like she was doing previously.
According to the Influencer Marketing Hub, the influencer marketing industry has seen market growth from $6.6 billion in 2019 to $9.7 billion in 2020, so it makes sense that PLT now have Molly-Mae as a public face for their brand. Whilst the position is a big achievement for Molly-Mae, it begs the question of whether she will use her influence to start to try and change the fashion industry. With her considerable influence and following, she could make significant changes the company by making moves to increase the sustainability of PLT by using more sustainable materials and producing less collections being higher quality. She also has an immense power to encourage her followers to be more mindful about the fashion they purchase and invest in high quality long lasting pieces.
About the author: Isabelle Eaton is currently studying for her masters degree in Sustainable Development at UWE. She is passionate about all things nature, wildlife and the outdoors. She is the Wildlife and Environment Editor here at Wild Magazine and is working towards a career in conservation so she can make a positive impact on the world.