Brandy Melville was founded in Italy by a father and son duo, Silvio Marsan, in the early 1980s and opened its first location in Westwood, USA, in 2009. It became a sensation among tweens and teens, but this was no accident.
The research team at Brandy Melville is made up of Malibu-based teenage girls and the brand has managed to keep prices low, their aesthetic aspirational, and their social media alive.
The social media team however has opted to use pictures of their skinniest, most long-legged, long blonde-haired consumers they can find, instead of opting for professional models with realistic bodies. Not off to a great start are we?
Not only is this classed as unethical but former Brandy employees also reveal the discriminatory process that goes into the hiring process of working at Brandy Melville.
The pay rate is known to be determined by your appearance and certain employees have claimed they would have got fired for gaining weight or cutting their hair.
These unethical practices have been villanized for years, and even by the standard of the fast fashion industry, which takes us onto our next question. Is Brandy Melville also a culprit of being a fast-fashion retailer?
So What Exactly Is Fast Fashion?
Increasing in its use, the buzzword, ‘fast fashion’ is used in the sustainability world every single day as we continue encouraging the fashion industry to move towards a more sustainable and ethical future. So what is it?
Fast fashion is a brand or retailer that uses design and manufacturing methods to rapidly produce high volumes of clothing.
The production team tends to use trend replication and poor quality materials to bring inexpensive styles to the public, as fast as humanly possible and on a mass-produced level.
Yet this method of production has now come to represent a dark side of fashion with overwhelming amounts of consumption and a wasteful approach to clothes, as well as harmful environmental impacts and extremely poor working conditions for employees.
Although fast fashion stimulates frequent purchases, making both business and consumer happy, creating shop loyalties, and keeping production costs low, the industry has more cons than pros and the public is beginning to realize this. Is the low cost of your new favorite top enough to justify the rapid methods of mass-production that are detrimental to employees in poor working conditions or the impact it’s having on the earth around us?
How Is Brandy Melville A Fast-Fashion Retailer?
Brandy Melville offers a range of different clothes from a wide array of shorts and skinny jeans, to tees and comfy pants, to the tiniest crop tops and oversized sweaters.
Not only do these clothes only come in a size small, highlighting the unethical and unrealistic beauty standards of the Brandy Melville design team, but these clothes are produced on an overwhelmingly large scale. This is what makes them a fast-fashion retailer.
Described by critics as ‘a money-hungry brand that uses fast fashion in order to keep up with the trends and sell their clothes at a higher price’, as with every other fast fashion brand, Brandy Melville takes inspiration from catwalk trends and recreates them for smaller budgets.
However, the only way they can do this is to install a system of mass-production, which allows for a quick turnover of those catwalk-inspired designs into products and garments they can sell online and on the shop floor.
This then ensures high-profit margins and is a perfect example of why fast fashion is one of the biggest industries in the fashion world.
It’s also the main reason why Brandy Melville can be considered a fast-fashion retailer, as they have the resources to create those all-important fashion week styles and then produce them on a much larger, yet unethical scale.
These designs are created quickly and are mass-produced just as fast, but this is where questions over the dark side of fast fashion start to creep in.
Are there instances of plagiarism? Are the garments worth the money? Just like all other fast-fashion retailers, these are questions you may want to ask yourself next time you buy anything from Brandy Melville.
But Brandy Melville Isn’t Cheap?
You’re right. If we compare Brandy Melville to the other fast-fashion retailers out there, it’s common to pick up on how although they do represent high street prices, they aren’t as affordable as some may think.
Not only does this pave way for more bad publicity if they’re are being exposed as a fast-fashion retailer but when taken into account alongside their corner-cutting methods and large tween and teen interest, we can almost assume how incredibly high their profit margins are.
If Brandy Melville’s prices aren’t kept as low as other fast-fashion retailers, does that make them doubly unethical? Some consumers use fast fashion as their only means of purchasing clothes if they are shopping on a budget, yet if you’re fortunate enough to be shopping at Brandy Melville prices, it’s almost worth considering whether you can use that money in a more sustainable shop.
It’s also worth keeping in mind that there are many mixed reviews from shoppers and critics about Brandy Melville’s lack of responsibility as a fashion retailer as a whole, so this could also be worth thinking about it when you’re ready to splash the cash on a potentially very unethical brand.
Brandy Melville’s mass-production system inevitably makes them a fast-fashion retailer, and with their already discriminatory hiring process and unethical ways of advertising to young girls, they may not be first on your list of places to visit on your next trip to the mall.
Although fast-fashion retailers such as Brandy Melville, can be tempting with such low prices, fashion week styles, and availability of products, next time you find yourself there, next time you find yourself in the changing room ready to take home that new pink dress all your friends said would look so cute on you, ensure you think twice and always shop with a conscience. The environment and employees all over the world will thank you.