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One Size Fits Small?- Brandy Melville Controversy

Updated: Jun 8, 2020

Brandy Melville: a vintage, Italian boutique started by a father and son in 1970 has turned into one of the most controversial limited-size teen clothing brands. Why is it controversial? Well for one, they have very limited sizing, with most of the clothes being one size and a few of the bottoms having a medium option. Second, the workers seem to be hired based on their style and looks and not what matters- work ethic and being a good employee. Lastly, their website is filled with dangerously skinny girls, which makes them look like they only support girls with one body type as well as eating disorders. Why do people give them their money then? Because they have good quality clothes at a reasonable price which is pretty rare amongst most retailers.

First off, the limited sizing. Many argue that their clothing is “one size fits small,” not “one size fits all”. Even for really lean teenage girls, some items just do not fit and it’s rarely because the items are too large. The popular clothing store does have a few oversized t-shirts and sweatshirts that might be able to fit most. Though the majority of their clothing items are tight fitting. For such a trendy, popular store, this could really affect one’s view of themselves when an item doesn’t fit right. From looking at the website, or just wanting to be hired by them, it’s obvious that they’re looking for skinny, caucasian girls with their limited view of what’s pretty. This could cause harm to those who want to fit into Brandy Melville’s clothing, or simply want a job there. Girls could, and likely are influenced to develop eating disorders to get that overly-skinny look and to fit in the fashionable clothing. It’s saddening to think that girls who don’t fit into a size small are turned away by the store because there aren’t any options for them. This store is the polar opposite of being size inclusive, yet they continue to get lots of business because of the quality and pricing of the clothing.

If the sizing wasn’t bad enough, the way they hire their employees is worse. Emily Novia, a girl who applied for a job at Brandy Melville, said, “They were so concerned about what you looked like and the following you had […] all the girls at my school who got the job at Brandy Melville had like 2,000 followers.” She continued to talk about how during the interview, they took her picture neck down, they asked her questions about her personal style and not much about being a good employee. Emily did not end up getting the job because she prepared for more work ethic questions and not ones about her personal style and her Instagram. Based on her experience, it seems as if they were setting up the stores to have model-esque girls as employees making consumers more tempted to buy the merchandise. While this could potentially be a good sales technique, it’s also wildly unfair to be hired based on your appearance, style and size.

Similarly to their employees, the girls featured on Brandy Melville’s website appear to be unhealthily skinny and there is hardly any diversity. Their models for the website are often employees as well, so the company doesn’t have to spend more money for models when they are already paying them to work there. Letao Chen, also known as “croissant” on YouTube, says, “because Brandy Melville seems more laid back, it’s more relatable and appealing to teens. Brandy’s exclusivity is visible from the types of people they choose to promote their image. Which is why going into their store and fitting into their clothes can feel so rewarding.” She also talked about how she got very discouraged when she tried on a pair of jeans from the store. Chen was considering eating less for a week and then coming back to try them on as her reward. This is an extremely toxic mindset, as she came to realize and said “In this situation, I struggled with my weight even though I didn’t need to.” Not every girl in her place would come to the same realization though, and it’s hard to think about how many young teenage girls have felt out of place or unwelcomed by this extremely popular store. From the website, to the employees, to the consumers, it can be a very harmful environment. But only the company can change the way they promote themselves, and only you can change the way you see yourself.

All in all, Brandy Melville is quite controversial and though people probably should boycott it, yet they don’t because the clothes are very trendy and cute at a reasonable price point. They sadly have very limited sizing, with most of the products being x-small to small and one size. The workers are chosen by style, their following on Instagram, their size and if they’re conventionally pretty or not. The website is nearly the same, conveying the image of those same very skinny girls who are white, or have white features. With that, a lot of their employees are the models for the website, so it all lines up. Unfortunately, it seems pretty clear that Brandy Melville only supports very small petite girls that are Brandy’s very limited version of beautiful.

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