Review of “Brandy Hellville & the Cult of Fast Fashion”

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Ah yes, the brand that exploded during the Tumblr girls era. Flash forward to today, and Brandy is ever-present in hundreds of teenage girl TikTok hauls. In 2023, the brand’s annual sales equated to $212.5 million. However, according to a recent HBO documentary, Brandy Melville isn’t what it appears to be. VALLEY is here to sum up all of its messy, hidden problems so buckle up and let’s get started. 

Fast Fashion
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The brand mass produces collections for each of its stores, in the same way that fast fashion tycoons like Zara and Shein do. They use small companies in European areas such as Prato, Italy. With this, it can be said quantity does not equal quality. 

As the mayor, Mattero Biffoni, stated, “They [the clothes] are made in Prato. But it’s a gimmick. Because the only Italian thing is the placement of the company and little more.” With the constant reveal of new pieces, consumers buy more and more. This process intoxicates both land and sea with heaps of discarded fabric.

Brandy’s Racist Tendencies
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The brand, with its mindset centered on one type of consumer, discourages the hiring of anyone who isn’t white. In the documentary, Kali, a former brandy employee, spoke about her experiences moving from the fitting room to the stockroom. “No white people were working in the stockroom. If you’re white, you had to be in sight.”

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Another employee, Emily, was surprised when she was hired by Brandy.  “When I applied, it was like a shot in the dark for me, to be honest, because I am part Asian and a lot of girls in the store, were all tall, skinny, blonde, white girls, and I was like ‘I don’t stand a chance against them.’” The atmosphere was not and still isn’t as inclusive as it should be.

Creepy Crawly
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Those who were working in the stores had to send “style photos” every day. It was a picture of their work outfits, and that was sent to CEO Stephan Marsan and others. Essentially, daily work photos of teenage girls’ outfits were being sent and kept by the head of the brand. 

To finish with the creepiness, Marta, another former employee, explained that there was an electrical button system in one of the stores. Whenever Stephan wanted the cashier to take a photo of or hire a certain customer, he would press a button in his office and it would light up next to the cash register. VALLEY can’t speak for all teenagers, but it doesn’t seem like the stores’ environments are safe or inclusive.

What are your thoughts on Brandy Melville? Let us know by messaging @VALLEYmag on X!


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