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The Student News Site of Marlborough School

The UltraViolet

The Student News Site of Marlborough School

The UltraViolet

Brandy Melville … is it Hellville?

Riley+25+Contributing+Illustrator
Riley 25 Contributing Illustrator

It wasn’t far into the “Brandy Hellville & the Cult of Fast Fashion” documentary that I became appalled by the company’s malpractices and leadership under CEO Stephan Marsan. How could a company as problematic as Brandy Melville continue to flourish and gain mass support by the media in a society that prides itself on inclusivity and self-empowerment? It’s not a secret that Brandy Melville has exclusionary store policies, yet people continue to purchase their items. So what is it about Brandy Melville, a company that fuels and capitalizes off of young women’s insecurities, that keeps people buying from them?

The documentary, directed by critically acclaimed Academy and Emmy award winner Eva Orner, exposes the antisemitic, racist and sexist comments made by the management of the company, and how working at Brandy Melville’s retail locations has negatively affected the mental health of many employees. From the problematic notion of “one size fits all” clothing that demonstrates the company’s exclusive marketing strategy, to subjecting employees who aren’t white to jobs hidden in the storage rooms, the documentary revealed that Brandy Melville continues to perpetuate racism and unrealistic beauty standards. For instance, former employees of Brandy Melville revealed that Marsan required a photo of their figure and outfit before each shift to ensure they embodied “company style.” Moreover, the documentary additionally highlights the implications that “fast fashion” companies such as Brandy Melville have not only on the environment, but also on developing nations.

So, with all of these toxic practices, why do people keep purchasing from Brandy Melville? I think the way the brand is marketed through social media and seen on celebrities such as Kendall Jenner and Hailey Bieber fuels an urgency to keep up with   popular culture by dressing in a similar manner. I would also argue that Brandy Melville does a fantastic job designing cheap and affordable clothing that stays up to date with the latest fashions trends, sparking consumer interest. 

In 2020, I began to buy from Brandy Melville because of the pressure from social media and friends and the desire to not miss out on the cute tops I saw on social media.

It is certainly peculiar that a company that garners as much public hate in a society prone to cancel culture has succeeded the way Brandy Melville has. Yet, as this revelatory documentary continues to elicit viewers, it will be interesting to see the effect that it has on public opinion and the brand at large. As for me, Brandy Melville is no longer an automatic purchase. I’d rather spend my money on clothes from ethical companies.

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Sydney 26
Sydney 26, Staff Writer
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