A Look Back At The Controversial PLT Fashion Show

Words by Kristie O’Connor

Pretty Little Thing is one of the world’s leading (fast) fashion retailers. But does that make it London Fashion Week (LFW) worthy? Looking back at their show in February, showcasing the new Molly-Mae x PLT collection, the looks are supposedly a stylish and affordable look book to help transition from a winter wardrobe to spring attire. However, the show, with its concept and creative direction, did not come without controversy.

This show was associated with one name: Molly-Mae Hague. The influencer, who was previously a contestant on Love Island back in 2019, has more recently gone up in the world, as it was announced in 2021 that she had become PLT’s newest Creative Director. Commenting ahead of the event to fashion platform FashionUnited, Hague discussed how the collection was “six months in the making”. After taking the time out of my day to watch the twenty-eight minutes and sixteen seconds that was the PLT by Molly-Mae fashion show, I was left with this thought: Seriously, six months? This show was nothing but a walking display of fashion trends that are likely to disappear within a year. Shirt dresses, bright patterns, and endless ruching. All trends and looks that are most likely to be forgotten and left in the wardrobe, or even the bin. Hague continues in her discussion with FashionUnited, that the designs are “timeless”, expressing that she thinks these pieces will “be in girls’ wardrobes for years”. I, unfortunately, must disagree, as most of the collection is none other than basic. And I’m not talking about the basic fashion staples people know and love that were actually included within the collection, like blazers, neutral-coloured crops, and a pantsuit.

I don’t think being basic is a massive issue for a retailer like PLT though; they’ve got to be somewhat basic to appeal to their target audience. They’re a brand that needs to appeal to a wide demographic in order to succeed. They do this by manufacturing every type of clothing you can think of, as well as garments that resemble the newest must-have trends. This way, they’re appealing to everyone. One thing I did take away from the show, as I’m sure many others did, was the inclusivity amongst the models on the catwalk. PLT and Hague believed the models must represent the public that will be wearing the clothing, meaning models of all heights, sizes, races, and ethnicities were present. As well as this, a model in a wheelchair. Tess Daly, a fashion, and beauty influencer who suffers with spinal muscular atrophy, graced the runway. I have never seen a catwalk more inclusive than this one, which honestly was a refreshing sight to see. I think we’re so used to models looking a specific way, we forget that real people will end up wearing these clothes. People of all walks of life, and although my opinion on the clothes may not be wholly positive, this part of the show can stay.

Unfortunately for PLT and Molly-Mae, the controversy was to begin both before, and after the show. It was safe to say that many believed the scheduling of the show to be rather strange, as it happened on the 16th of February, two days before the official LFW was due to commence.  The show was advertised as if it was in association with the LFW, leaving many to question the credibility and decadence of LFW, and whether it was still high-fashion couture. Eventually, LFW made a statement, cutting any association with PLT and their show. The way PLT and Molly-Mae used LFW to enhance and draw attention to their show was almost a disservice to LFW. Designers at LFW have created, curated, and designed spectacular shows with their own personal and unique creations. To believe such fashion houses would share their time and their one chance each season to sit alongside a show by a fast fashion brand, goes against everything LFW is about.

This wasn’t the biggest controversy to arise from PLT and Molly-Mae’s fashion show though, as protestors gathered outside to showcase their own creations; handmade signs to explicitly call out PLT for the unfair wages their garment workers are currently receiving. This is why I don’t like the clothes, why I don’t care about the fact that they had a fashion show, and personally why I don’t shop online at PLT. The fast fashion industry is extremely complex, with the environmental issues it causes as well as the very cheap and tacky clothing that is created within this industry. However, this is a human rights violation. The fact that Molly-Mae, because she is Creative Director of PLT, a job given to her based off of the privileges she has received as an influencer, has a salary of £400k. Meanwhile, PLT pays their factory workers, people who are trying to get by, £3.50 per hour. Significantly less than minimum wage, and completely unethical. PLT and its owner Boohoo, refuse to acknowledge the protests surrounding the issue and still haven’t changed the pay of their workers.

This is a huge part of the reason why I would never support brands like PLT, even if I did like some of the clothes on the runway.