I’m sure some of you have heard of Brandy Melville. It really popped off around 2013 and honestly I’m surprised it’s still around. I found it in the Bondi Junction Westfield on the weekend and I thought it was such a throwback.
Brandy Melville is essentially a clothing brand that targeted a ‘tumblr aesthetic’. The Brandy Melville girl is cool, always in style and probably drinks Starbucks and listens to a lot of indie music. Basically she was someone you wanted to aspire to be. The brand was hugely problematic in the day and still is because of its ‘one size fits all’ sizing. This is problematic for many reasons.
I don’t want to hate on the brand too much but I wanted to share some insightful reasons why I have disliked Brandy Melville and similar clothing brands. This isn’t a target towards Brandy Melville in particular but rather a summation of passionate thoughts in my consciousness about fashion that I have thought about for a while.
If you’re not interested, you can stroll to the end to see my haul and review. However, I do think it’s important that we become more conscious consumers.
my issues with brandy melville and non-inclusive fashion
issues with non inclusive sizing
Lack of representation from POC and curvier women for staff
As I was shopping in Brandy Melville, it was clear as day that everyone working there was skinny, white and young (I swear to god they looked like literally teenagers). This isn’t a dig at the staff but merely an observation. They were actually really nice but it is clear on how the brand wants to be represented.
For me that’s really problematic. I worked at H&M in retail and whilst there are issues I have with that brand, I can say with confidence that they are very good at ensuring diversity and inclusivity is paramount when hiring staff. I worked with people from different ethnicities, ages, sexualities and most importantly for this context, sizes.
Brandy Melville do better.
Lack of representation from POC and curvier women for customers and is only one look/size beautiful?
(spoiler: it’s fucking not- sorry I’m angry haha)
Having one size fits all is an exclusive rather than inclusive move. Obviously, nothing is a one size fits all so by doing this you’re catering for skinnier people and curvier people just have to deal with it. How is that fair?
Also, it leaves the impression that only one look is desirable and hence catered to and for Brandy Melville, it’s clear that their clothes are for the skinny white girl. I mention this in my next point but it leaves impressionable young girls questioning their body types and wondering if they’re good enough because exclusivity makes people want things even more. It’s like joining an exclusive club. You want to be in it even if you don’t know what it is- it’s exclusive right? Meaning that people couldn’t get it but you could. So congrats?
Clap for you I guess. (sarcasm).
Promoting skinny aesthetic is dangerous and wrong
note: may be triggering – I will be mentioning eating disorders
Brandy Melville, in particular, has always had a niche with young teens and adults.
This is taken from an official Brandy Melville instagram. Notice how every girl on their feed is skinny and white?
She’s thin, she’s laidback. She listens to indie music, loves a iced Starbucks latte and her boyfriend is either a musician or a surfer lmao. I understand that this is an aesthetic that Brandy Melville is catering to but young teens are also the most impressionable and it is really dangerous to have these young girls think that skinny is cool and chic.
Body image issues can cause eating disorders such as anorexia and has been heavily on the rise in recent years.
Almost 50% of teen girls living in Australia and New Zealand have tried losing weight and practised extreme weight loss behaviours. Some of which include fasting, self-induced vomiting and smoking.
This was me too. I was a regular 15 year old 130 pound girl feeling inadequate in terms of my body with negative influences especially from my peers (who were often slimmer) and advertising and marketing particularly from brands such as Brandy Melville.
Random Thoughts from Clarissa:
- 130 pounds is actually goals for me at the moment and it’s sad that when I was at my lowest weight I was not happy with myself. Never once did I wear a bikini when I was below 60kg. Today whilst I was at the pool at the gym, I wore a bikini and honey, I was thriving. I did not feel uncomfortable with my body. It just goes to show happiness comes within and weight isn’t everything.
- Companies profit off the notion that we don’t feel inadequate. Our pursuit for happiness mainly comes from external factors (think your body, materialistic items you possess) because they relate to your identity and esteem. I recently wrote a post that delved more into this. Don’t fall into this trap because you’re worth so much more. And definitely more than Brandy Melville clothing.
The ‘one size fits all’ added with the aspirational aesthetic and ‘goals’ that Brandy Melville and their ambassadors have can lead to young girls intentionally restricting their diet and having negative body image in an effort to fit into their clothes when they absolutely don’t need to change their weight and who they are.
Revisit point 2 – you’re worth so much more.
aesthetic fashion is problematic
The rich dominate what is in fashion – what does that mean for the poor
Case Study: Streetwear
Ugh I hate that I’m really passionate writing this. Firstly, I love streetwear. I have loved experimenting with streetwear especially around 2017-2018 (not proud to admit I bought a lot of unessential sneakers and other pieces) but my style has sort of changed since.
Streetwear has been around for a long time and has evolved from not just a clothing trend but a lifestyle and a product of culture. It originated from urban and skate culture but now it is synonymous with high-end and designer brands creating a status symbol. Some of these brands include:
- Comme Des Garcons
- Acne Studios
I hate Off-White the most because it annoys me the most (so obnoxious) which says a lot because Supreme is on this list. BAPE is probably a close second for me. I digress. The point is these are all exclusive and luxury brands that are fashionable and trendy and flaunt wealth.
What started off something that was casual and full of personal style and experimentation has evolved into this. Chucking a few expensive items here and there and having the most expensive outfit possible. Whilst I find this sad, it also limits fashion to the very wealthy. For me, this is problematic.
Poorer people still aspire to wear these streetwear brands such as Supreme as a status symbol but people shouldn’t chose to struggle to make ends meet for a fucking Supreme hoodie. It’s so messed up. The reason why poorer people still aspire to have designer items such as Louis Vuitton and Supreme is because it gives the illusion you’re not poor. Identity and status means a lot in a materialistic world.
Another trend I’m noticing is vintage is in. Unfortunately, people and companies are profiting this and making it really expensive. Thrifting shouldn’t be expensive. It loses the essence of what thrifting means. Again, it is something that wealthier people have decided is fashionable and they can afford it. In doing so, this puts poorer people off limits to what constitutes as ‘fashion’.
Going back to Brandy Melville, Brandy Melville is a brand well known for its basics. However, these basics are really expensive comparative to other stores which again agrees with my hypothesis that what is in fashion is dominated by the rich and how the majority of its customers come from thin, white, straight women.
End of rant.
brandy melville haul & review
Now going into this store was a throwback because it reminded me why I liked Brandy Melville back in high school. I grew up with indie music man. The Kooks, Arctic Monkeys and The Wombats were some of my favourite bands in high school. I also really liked the ‘tumblr fashion aesthetic’ which is basically what Brandy Melville encompasses.
I have to say their clothes are cute and whilst expensive, not outrageously expensive. Simple basics were around $30 with cardigans around $40-$60. I also happened to wear my Tame Impala tote so this definitely brings me back to Clarissa circa 2013. Love to see it.
Also not even an affiliate link but this tote is actually brilliant. Especially if you’re a Tame Impala fan. It’s really sturdy and thick which I love because some totes (such as Brandy Melville’s) are so thin and crap. It’s only $20 and honestly worth every penny. It’s my everyday tote I bring when I’m just doing errands or going shopping.
For reference, I am a UK and AUS 12-14 (US 8-10) on the top. So let’s see if this one size fits all really is true? Of course it’s not.
Some tops, which I won’t show for obvious reasons, did not fit AT ALL. It didn’t even go over my boobs. This floral green top came in multiple colours and it was really cute but this definitely did NOT fit me. The white collared cardigan fit a bit better but the buttons were still stretching out so they were both a no from me. So far 0 out of 4 tops. Not going so well here.
The saving grace was this green cardigan which I have actually been looking for a while. I’ve seen it on Shein but their sizing is off and it’s problematic as well. The cardigan fit really nice and would look really cute with a tennis skirt on. I bought this and I’m really happy with it. For $50, not cheap but not that expensive.
Their clothes are nice, I will give them that. But it’s not a one size fits all situation. The more outwear pieces (e.g. cardigans) fit a bit better than the tops. Not even going to try any skirts and pants. The jeans wouldn’t go past my knees and the skirts will expose my whole bum and I don’t want that.
Purchase if you will. I think the quality is good and they have really cute basic pieces but I don’t like the one size fits all. I also don’t like how it pretty much exclusively caters to teens. It is a niche and it works I guess. Everyone was a teen (or someone’s mum). I felt a bit out of place as a 23 year old. I reckon even the staff were younger than me.
I just don’t like the idea of feeling pressure when walking into a store and feeling judgemental reactions towards you. I also realised as writing this that Brandy Melville isn’t American. It’s actually Italian. I would have never known because they really push that Californian girl aesthetic. This further proves my case about Brandy Melville being ‘aesthetic fashion’ and not genuine at all, merely copying trends. The stuff you see on Brandy Melville is all over Pinterest and Instagram.
I’ll leave you with this. When I first saw this, I was so weirded out. Milano is Italian so why is there an England flag? Purely aesthetically pleasing and not genuine at all. This made me eyeroll.
haha what are your thoughts on Brandy Melville? I’ll love to know in the comments.
Sorry this was so ranty and negative. Despite that, they still took my coin. I guess 15 year old me finally felt cool and got something Brandy Melville lmao.
Anyway until next time,