Ultra-Trendy Brandy Melville Is Just Another Exclusionary Fast Fashion Brand

It may not look like it, but Brandy Melville is fast fashion. Here's what you should know about the brand.

Eva Hagan - Author

Mar. 25 2024, Published 12:26 p.m. ET

The front of a Brandy Melville store.
Source: Getty Images

Brandy Melville is an Italian fashion brand that has become the uniform of trendy teens walking the malls, with basic clothing pieces have become an emblem of simple and chic. However, under all that simplicity is just covering up a mess of controversy. Brandy Melville's trademark is exclusivity, with everything from its "one size fits all" clothing, to allegedly even hiring employees based on race and looks.

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Though the European roots, soft aesthetic, and exclusive customer base may fool you, Brandy Melville is really just another fast fashion brand. Here's what you should know.

The front of a Brandy Melville store.
Source: Getty Images
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Is Brandy Melville fast fashion?

Brandy Melville is fast fashion. The brand mass produces clothing to sell cheaply and is not transparent about its environmental practices, per Good On You.

According to Ecothes, the brand's lack of transparency is a giant red flag. Most of Brandy Melville's clothing is conventional cotton, which requires a lot of water and pesticides to grow, which can have some potential environmental impacts. Much of the cotton industry also uses forced labor, and Brandy Melville does not disclose who makes its clothing, leaving some people skeptical about its labor practices.

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It's no secret that fashion is a major contributor to global warming, with the textile industry producing almost 10 percent of the world's GHG emissions.

Because of this, many fashion brands have started to make an effort for sustainability, taking accountability for emissions, and developing plans for future operations. However, Brandy Melville has done nothing like this.

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In fact, there is very little information out there about how Brandy Melville operates at all. Even the brands often compared to Brandy Melville have developed something of the sort, such as Urban Outfitters' "UO in Progress," or Abercrombie and Fitch's sustainability plan. However, Brandy Melville doesn't even have so much as an "about" page on its website, as noted by Shameless.

Brandy Melville also does not reveal any information about animal welfare policy or greenhouse gas emissions data, which leads many to believe that the answers cannot be good, per Good On You.

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People standing inside a Brandy Melville store.
Source: Getty Images

Is Brandy Melville sustainable or ethical?

Brandy Melville does not appear to be sustainable or ethical. It is a fast fashion brand and has not shown any evidence of trying to reduce its impact or take steps towards sustainability. Brandy Melville's labor conditions within manufacturing are unknown, and the company has been criticized for how it treats its in-store employees and even customers, per Good On You.

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Brandy Melville is also notorious for its "one size" fits all clothing, which equates to a U.K. size 4-8, and a U.S. size 1-4. Thus, its clothing is essentially made to fit the ultra-thin woman or teen, and is not accessible to most people. With this, the brand excludes so many people from the clothing, and upholds an unrealistic standard of beauty.

What's worse, there have been instances of racism and body-shaming at Brandy Melville.

As Business Insider reported in 2021, Franco Sorgi, a former owner of various Brandy Melville stores said that the brand's CEO Stephan Marsan didn't want "overweight or Black customers" shopping at the store, as it could "ruin the brand's reputation," in Business Insider's words.

The news outlet further investigated the matter and reported that various employees (past and present as of 2021) confirmed that the brand hired and fired employees based on race and body type.

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