The year is 2014. Tumblr was where all the cool kids posted images taken by DSLR cameras of literally anything and labeled it as “aesthetic,” and One Direction was still made up of five members. This was the era where Brandy Melville thrived; as the uncrowned king of teenage girl fashion, the Italian clothing brand had a spot in everyone’s closet due to its basic style that made you look effortlessly chic. However, Brandy Melville has fallen from its spot since then, and in 2023, there seems to be a myriad of controversies that cloud the brand’s image. This begs the question: what happened to Brandy Melville?
The most “special” thing about them is, without a doubt, their one-size-fits-all policy. This may seem like a blessing at first glance: there’s no longer any need to dig through piles of clothing just to find out your size is missing. However, “one-size” might as well be synonymous with “extra small” in Brandy Melville, as nothing above a size four can be found anywhere within the store. Countless girls became self-conscious about their body image when they couldn’t fit into an item that wasn’t made for their body shape, and many felt like being themselves was worthless when compared to being a “Brandy Girl”: tall, white, skinny, upper-middle class, and able-bodied.
The brand further pushes this narrative with every chance they get, from their ad campaigns to the workers they hire in their stores. Brandy Melville’s Instagram exclusively features models that fit their standards, slowly brainwashing young girls into thinking that beauty can only look a certain way.
This isn’t even the worst of it. The brand culture has been revealed to be deeply exploitative, and the company is rampant with racism, sexism, and antisemitism. CEO Stephen Marsan has been reported to state that he didn’t want any Black or overweight women shopping in his store and that he preferred to sell his clothing to “good-looking rich little girls.” He fired any workers whom he deemed to be unattractive, and the company has allegedly engaged in predatory acts with young workers.
In no world should Brandy Melville’s controversies be overlooked. They have already made a huge impact on the fashion industry and the perception of beauty for teenage girls, and they continue to stay in business without proper repercussions. Beauty does not look a definitive way; beauty is about confidently being who you are.