Writer: Francesca N.
Visual: Erica N.
Editor: Kay S.
Brandy Melville oozes with allure: their storefronts are aesthetic, their store booms with chart-toppers and R&B. Their clothes are hung on kitschy fabric hangers. And above all, their walls pulse with a message: one size fits all because all teenage girls have a size 0 waist and wear a size small. All teenage girls bear a constant beach smile, perfect teeth, pale skin, and windswept hair – absolutely all of them.
At least, this is the image they manage to maintain. Beyond their small-only sizing, people have commented on the store atmosphere, as well. Step into those Pinterest-ready brick walls and notice how all the sellers are supermodel-levels of attractive (almost insinuating that be a key qualification for employment), with a high school type kind of so-over-it demeanor.
It is important to note that not all “trendy” clothing retailers are like Brandy. The vast majority – such as H&M, Forever 21, Zara – carry a huge range of sizes, even extending to plus-line wear. Inclusive sizing is the winner in the competition for redefining beauty as something to be universal. Shared. Junior Maanya D. thinks that “it’s kind of annoying because even though [Brandy Melville claims that] one size fits all, I’ve been to the store and some stuff can fit you so well while other stuff might be too long or too tight. I don’t think it’s smart because if they want more people to buy their products they should be more inclusive, starting with sizes.” However, others who do fit the clothing have difficulty are less likely to feel bothered about the situation, such as sophomore Eliana A. who says that “it’s a little bit restrictive to the majority of body types, but in the end, it’s okay because they aren’t forcing anyone to buy their clothing.” But they’re destructive, because of this exclusivity they promote. If you don’t fit into their one size fits all, you don’t fit into the image of “all”.
People may subconsciously perceive fitting into Brandy outfits as passing some initiation, being part of a clique. Many girls – including me – have struggled immensely with failing to completely conform to conventional beauty standards, looking in the mirror and feeling wrong, thinking that their bodies weren’t as lean or athletic as they needed to be in order to be inexplicably and measurably beautiful. The toxicity of that mindset has made fitting into Brandy’s clothing provide a stupid sense of validation and even comfort. In a way, there is codependency on poor body image and the success of Brandy’s marketing.
Brandy Melville does come under fire by hoards of onlookers, most notably on social media platforms such as YouTube. Many channels have released storytime videos about unfair treatment by the brand, such as Jazzy Le (who claims that they wouldn’t regard her as an employee due to her physical appearance and potentially her race), each spattered with outrage in the comments section towards Brandy Melville for promoting such an elitist sense of fashion. The company has hardly made a response, however, and continues to rake in high figures – economists stated a generous $125 million in 2014, for example. And their Instagram page, a platform that perpetuates their appeal and brand presence, still boasts a following of 3.9 million. Clearly, backlash regarding their restrictive clothing sizes doesn’t overpower people liking clothes they want to like.
The thing we, as consumers and as teenagers with our slew of insecurities, need to remember is that we don’t need to fit into the Brandy image to be considered “all” or included or right. It’s a concept that sounds beautiful and easy in writing, but difficult to truly enact upon… hence, the hesitancy was of my own stance towards the clothing. I am subject to those thought patterns because adopting this mentality remains a challenge for me. But many people have, the strongest among them being the ones who don’t fit the clothes. Junior Mackenzie H. advocates strongly against Brandy, since “their clothes are only made for tiny girls, and that’s so messed up! But I like my body, I don’t care.” She’s inspiring because she believes the truth we keep repeating to ourselves: the difference between Brandy Melville and people is that people aren’t trends, and people aren’t effective marketing strategies. Understanding that, in a way, is much more beautiful than fashion on a clothes rack.