Unlike pretty much everyone else during the pandemic, Molly-Mae Hague says her approach to fashion hasn’t actually changed since Covid hit.
While everyone else was slowly sliding into trackies and elasticated waistbands, Hague admits she was already there. “I’ve always been very relaxed, I have to feel comfy,” the 22-year-old says.
“I can’t wear anything that’s restrictive or makes me feel unconfident or uncomfortable. Nothing too tight, I love being comfy.”
That’s not to say Hague slouches about in any old tracksuit with last night’s dinner spilled down the front. As PrettyLittleThing’s creative director, her Instagram page is full of chic outfits, often mixing designer labels with items from the fast fashion brand.
She says: “Day-to-day I really do like my chilled clothes, but then I love that dressy side as well – when you’re going on a date night or for meetings, I love to have that boss woman vibe. Outfits with a nice blazer, a pair of jeans, a pair of heels.”
This is reflected in her latest PrettyLittleThing collection, set to be debuted in a catwalk show ahead of London Fashion Week. Hague describes the clothes as having “that London city girl” look, and one of her initial inspirations was Britain's Princess Diana and her “cycling shorts and sweaters”.
Hague’s time at PrettyLittleThing (PLT) hasn’t been without its controversies. Some were surprised she was given the role of creative director in 2021 – particularly when most creative directors at major fashion brands have a lot more experience. But Hague says: “I went to the Fashion Retail Academy, so I knew fashion was always what I wanted to do. It’s been my passion since I was a young girl, so I feel like it’s led me to exactly where I wanted to be in this role.
“I’ve taken a nice organic growth from influencer, through to ambassador, now creative director – it’s felt right, and it’s not been rushed. If you count the years before Love Island, I’ve been working with them [PLT] for five years.”
While Hague was introduced to the world on Love Island, PLT saw she was a rising influencer when she had just 8,000 followers. Hague says: “They gifted me when I went to Ibiza, and no brands had really done that yet – so the relationship has been there from day one. When I first got a DM from PrettyLittleThing, I was like, ‘MUM!’ – and she had no idea what I was on about. Well, now she knows what I’m on about.”
More recently, Hague came under fire for comments on The Diary Of A CEO podcast, where she said: “You’re given one life and it’s down to you what you do with it.” A clip from the interview went viral on Twitter, with Hague criticised on the platform for being tone-deaf and unaware of her privilege.
Hague’s first response to the situation was to say her comments were “technically” correct, but she later apologised, saying she never meant any “malice or ill intent”.
When we speak, Hague says about social media in general: “It’s tricky, because with six million people watching your every move, it’s not possible to keep everyone happy at every time. I try my best to be a positive role model, and I think it’s good for young girls as well to see a woman in the role that I have now, and see the sky’s the limit.”
Three years into life as a public figure, Hague says she’s “quite good at cutting out” the noise, adding: “For all the negative there is twice as much love, so that’s what I focus on.” This might be so, but you can still detect some concern over outside opinions when she says: “I just live my life, and show what I think people want to see.”
As a brand, PrettyLittleThing has been criticised for pushing fast fashion and contributing to the huge environmental impact of the industry (textile production emits more greenhouse gases than international flights and maritime shipping combined, according to a 2017 report by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation).
This is definitely something Hague wants to combat – particularly with the upcoming launch of PLT marketplace. “[It’s] basically an app where PLT customers can resell their PLT preloved pieces – and not just PLT pieces, they can sell anything”, Hague explains. “This is going to be huge for sustainability, and pushing people to think maybe [their clothes] could be worn by someone else and not thrown away.”
Hague seems aware of PLT’s reputation, saying: “I don’t think anyone’s expecting that [the PLT marketplace] to come.” She’ll appear on the platform herself – but that’s not the only way she wants to combat fast fashion.
“There has become this weird culture where you wear an outfit once and you can’t wear it again, but I don’t believe in that,” Hague says, reflecting on other Instagram influencers. “For me, that’s not the point of buying clothes. You buy them to rewear them, to restyle them, to continue loving them – and not have as throwaway fashion.”