The cult retailer, beloved by Gen Z, faces allegations of discriminatory hiring practices, sexual misconduct, and antisemitism. And you thought ‘one size fits most’ was bad.
Last year, as conversations surrounding racism followed George Floyd’s murder, an influx of former and current employees at some of the biggest names in fashion, including Refinery 29, Vogue, and The Cut, spoke up about issues of mistreatment.
Quickly followed by a wave of upheaval and, in some cases, resignations at many of these institutions, it seemed as though the industry’s reckoning would finally lead to genuine change.
We saw Moschino, Versace, Zara, and Antropologie crack down on discrimination and commit to doing better – likely a response to being held up for ridicule and boycotted by the public, but an effort, nonetheless.
Then there’s Brandy Melville, the cult retailer beloved by Gen Z.
Apparently blind to the societal progress (regardless of how disappointingly minimal) we’ve made since the BLM and MeToo movements began fighting harder than ever before to prevent their voices from being quashed, it appears it’s gone further downhill.
Before I get into it, however, let me specify that Brandy Melville has never been the shining star of inclusivity. Quite the opposite, in fact.
For decades, shoppers without the body type of a perfectly polished Instagram influencer have been hard-pressed to find anything that fits in store, despite the brand’s ‘one size fits most’ labelling which, another problem entirely, has understandably garnered significant criticism.
‘Every year that goes by, the beauty standard is shifting a little bit,’ says a Black employee who worked at Brandy Melville from 2016 to 2019.
‘And I feel like they’re so out of touch still. They don’t even try to keep up with the times. They’re stuck in this whole 2013 bubble where they feel like young, skinny, blond-haired, blue-eyed girls should be the face of their brand. We’re past that.’
In promoting the aesthetic of a skinny, blonde, and notably white girl (you only need to head over to their social media pages to clock the total absence of POC models), Brandy Melville has expressly shunned an entire community of people and fostered a divide between those who can wear tiny garments and those who can’t.
Frankly, it’s a wonder we haven’t witnessed their demise already.
A new report from Business Insider, published on Tuesday, includes accusations of an exploitative culture at Brandy Melville rife with racism, fatphobia, sexism, and antisemitism stemming directly from the very top.
‘Every day, girls who work at the fast fashion stores are required to send a full body photo to executives and partake in store-wide diets,’ says former vice president, Luca Rotondo, who was removed of his title for refusing to let workers go if they were ‘off brand.’