Brandy Melville: What You Should Know


Tori DiPasquale, Editor/Writer

It’s no shock to see a plaid miniskirt or ruched top and hear the word “Brandy” follow on the lips of the wearer. Brandy Melville, the affordable on-trend brand, has taken teenage girls’ closets by storm.. Recently, however, the wholesome image of the brand has been tainted with the discovery of racist, sexist, and predatory practices within the company. With these revelations should come a reckoning for a brand that has been mistreating its employees, as well as its customers. 

Brandy Melville started as a brick-and-mortar brand in the eighties, but didn’t reach its mass appeal until the early 2010s. They offered a selection of cheap, bohemian pieces that boasted only carrying one size, with the typical pant waist only being 24”. The store quickly became a nationwide phenomenon: online shopping was easy, since they only carried one size. However, the allure of Brandy goes further than the fabrics: when you wear their clothes, you silently show that you ‘fit the standard’.

The company has faced mass criticism for its size exclusion, and rumors circulated that the hiring process was incredibly surface-level and abrupt. The response was typically an eye-roll and a comparison to aughts-era Hollister, that fashion would always be corrupt, and we all just should shop elsewhere and carry on. But recently, executives are under fire for much darker practices. 

According to a Business Insider article, the highest ranking members of the company are known to send racist and antisemetic images to one another on a very frequent basis. In a group chat of Brandy execs, jokes about Hitler were commonplace and enjoyed. One image even showed Stefan Marsan, the CEO and founder of Brandy, with his face edited onto Hitler’s body. Business Insider obtained screenshots of the messages, making clear that Marsan made many of the disturbing images himself, including those mentioned above. Some may argue that these actions have nothing to do with the brand, but this cannot be true because of how integral Marsan is in the production of the clothes. He has the final say on everything the company does, and although his beliefs aren’t explicitly shown in the product, they are still in every action he takes. It is important to consider when buying from a brand whose CEO is a proud racist, is it worth supporting this person for a piece of clothing? 

Alongside the racist images in the group chat were pictures of potential Brandy Melville employees. A long standing and widespread practice in the company is a required full body photo of each job candidate being sent to Marsan for his approval. For years it has been known that the brand favors fair and thin girls for employees. This is the case because they aren’t just employees, but spokespeople and models for the company. Marsan once stated that he wouldn’t hire any people of color or overweight people because he only wanted “good-looking little rich girls” to wear his clothes. Despite many people knowing these discriminatory practices when hiring, the brand suffered little to no consequences. It is more alarming now, however, that we know how involved and crude  Marsan was about who could work at Brandy. He had to personally approve every hiring only after viewing a picture of the candidate. If they weren’t up to his standards of who should represent the brand, they weren’t hired. His standards were so specific that other employees would often photoshop the images of potential workers to make them more appealing to his “tastes”. It’s horrific that someone would put the worth of his employees solely into their looks, and it is baffling that the practice has continued for the company’s entire existence. 

These are just a few of the actions  that Brandy Melville, and more specifically Steve Marsan, have been practicing. It has become impossible to separate those actions from the clothing that they sell, and consumers should keep that in mind the next time they find themselves in a Brandy Melville store.