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Brandy Melville: One Size Fails All

November 4, 2019

Brandy Melville is a clothing store that sells “one size” clothing. It was founded in 1970 in Italy by Silvio Marsan and his son, Stephan Marsan. The first U.S. store opened in the Westwood neighborhood of Los Angeles, near UCLA, in 2009. Since then, it has grown massive attention and love from teens. They claim that their “one size” clothing fits most, but it is more like one size fits small. It is time for Brandy Melville to add more sizes to their brand.

Brandy Melville is notorious for selling clothing that only fits thin people. You would think that a clothing store that sells small sizes would not do well, but that is not the case. Research from a semiannual survey from firm Piper Jaffray, “it’s one of the brands with the fastest-growing popularity among American teen girls.” What is it about this store that makes it so well known? Is it the pressure to fit in with others, did their favorite influencer wear something from Brandy Melville, or is it just because the clothes are cute?

We asked teens at Taft what makes the store so unique even though they sell “one size” clothing. Sophomore, Sophia Cloward said, “they have a lot of trendy and cute clothes, which is why people still buy clothes from there, to be on-trend.” If Brandy Melville were to add more sizes, “more people would shop there, because I know people who are a little more on the plus size, so I think a lot of them would shop there if their sizes expanded,” said Sophia.

Junior, Erika Boyso agrees as well, with the idea of Brandy Melville adding more sizes and how it would not only benefit the customers but the store itself because “they would earn more money by adding more sizes.”

On Brandy Melville’s Instagram, they have a massive following of 3.9 million followers, with most of their followers being teen girls. If you take a look at their Instagram, you will see models who are only tall skinny girls, that fit the “brandy girl” look. A lot of the “brandy girls” have a big following on their own Instagram accounts, that teenage girls aspire. Sophia Cloward, said “the models that they show are very skinny and have this ideal type of what a girl should look like. They should choose different models of skin color and sizes, and no limit to one size.”

A “one-size” policy is also unhealthy for teens, and are perpetuating a dangerous stereotype for teen girls’ body image. Limited sizes are not suitable for teens because they “fuel eating disorders” and affects those who already have eating disorders or mental illness. The one-size policy can impact teens mentally and physically, causing them to use “unhealthy weight control behaviors.” According to the National Eating Disorders Association, “young people go to great lengths to meet these unreasonable societal expectations: More than 50 percent of teenage girls use unhealthy weight control behaviors such as skipping meals, fasting, smoking cigarettes, vomiting and taking laxatives.” Some girls will do anything to lose weight just to fit into the clothes to feel accepted. British Liberal Democrat MP Norman Lamb, a former minister for mental health, said: “I am deeply concerned about such an approach to retail for this age group. It is highly irresponsible and potentially dangerous.” If Brandy Melville added more sizes and diverse models with different body types, teens would not put themselves down or stress because they can not fit into Brandy Melville clothing. YouTuber Sierra Schultzzie made a video of her and her friend who are both different sizes, trying Brandy Melville’s clothing, whether Brandy Melville’s one size is able to “fit most.”

Kimberly Holland’s Cover Art.

In an article written by Kimberly Holland, medically reviewed by Daniel Bubnis, MS, NASM-CPT, NASE Level II-CSS, states, “For adolescents and teenage girls, ages 13 to 19, the average waist size is 32.6 inches. This is the equivalent of a medium or large pant size, or about a size 12.” At Brandy Melville, the smallest size they have for jeans is an x-small (24″ waist), and the largest size is a medium (28″ waist). Then for skirts, they only have a 24″ waist, which is only to fit an x-small and small. There are stores like H&M and Forever 21 that offer a range of sizes from XS-3X. Brandy Melville is promoting teen girls\; the only way to be pretty is by being skinny. It is already hard enough for teen girls to gain confidence in themselves, and with stores like Brandy Melville, it does not help.

Brandy Melville is not the only store that has had backlash for their limited sizes. Abercrombie and Fitch had always received criticism for not including plus sizes and especially because of ex CEO Mike Jefferies. Back in 2006, Mike Jefferies had said, “Candidly, we go after the cool kids. We go after the attractive all-American kid with a great attitude and a lot of friends. A lot of people don’t belong [in our clothes], and they can’t belong. Are we exclusionary? Absolutely.” Till in 2013, Abercombie and Fitch finally added plus sizes, but only because of financial desperation. They did not want to add plus sizes for customers. They were just desperate because their sales went down. Now they want the “fat uncool” people to shop at their store.

Another problem with clothing stores is, some charge more for the same item when plus-sized, but when it’s not plus-sized, it is just the regular price. For example, the online store “Boohoo charged more for a size 18 dress than size 8.” It does not make sense when the same item, just different sizes, costs more than the other. No matter what size, if the same product, it should cost the same.

Yoga brand, Lululemon’s largest size was a 10, with maybe a couple of size 12, but those sizes were put in the back of the store “clumped and unfolded under a table.” The styles available for larger sizes would be designs “whose fashion moment had long since passed.” Lululemon back in 2011 did not carry plus sizes, and then in 2018, they added sizes up to a 14. Lululemon still has a long way to go by introducing their plus size by adding even more sizes, but it shows effort and forward progress.

Times are changing for the fashion/modeling industry. They are finally becoming more accepting of women of all sizes. There are models such as Ashley Graham, Barbie Ferreira, Stephanie Yeboah, Tess Holliday, and so many other beautiful plus-size models who promote body positivity. Young girls and women of different body types should have women to look up to, who empower them to embrace, express, and love themselves. Plus-Size women want to look and feel just as amazing as any other person who is a smaller size. They want to be able to go into a store that carries their size, not go into a store that only offers one size.

Aimee Sy

The big question now is, will Brandy Melville one day add more sizes, or will stick to it’s “one size” policy? Brandy Melville has not made any statements about whether they will add more sizes in the future. If they were to add more sizes, it would make shoppers ecstatic, knowing that they can go into a store that offers their size. Adding models of different sizes and skin colors would be amazing as well. This could influence other stores that have the “one size” policy to add more sizes. For now, teens have to shop at Brandy Melville in the hope of finding items that will fit them or just not shopping there at all.

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