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Style > Fashion

The Controversy Behind Fast Fashion: Shein & Brandy Melville

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at CU Boulder chapter.

It’s 2014. All your friends have convinced you that the sparkly Justice T-shirt you wore last week is out of style. Brandy Melville is now the new thing you must wear to fit in.

As women in the 21st century, we have this idea that we must wear what’s “trendy” to fit in.  The original prices of these “trendy” outfits can be considered to be on the pricey side. Still, some retailers buy the same outfits from the original retailer and sell them at a much lower price than the original price. Cheap chic may seem the way to go, but in reality, it’s too much for the fast fashion industry due to large orders that are too tough to keep up with. Not alone, many clothing options people buy from e-sellers don’t last long, as some people experience the outfit lasting as few as seven to 10 years. You want to get your worth when spending so much money on multiple outfits. 

‘Brandy Hellville & the Cult of Fast Fashion,’ a 2024 documentary that premiered on HBO Max in March, sheds light on the hidden side of the fast fashion industry. It delves into the branding strategies of Brandy Melville and the detrimental effects of fast fashion on the environment. Brandy Melville, an Italian-based company, gained international popularity for its California-inspired beach-style trends, which resonated with many teenagers.  

@dailymail

Brandy Hellville & The Cult of Fast Fashion, a documentary exposing the dark side of the wildly popular clothing brand, is coming to HBO on April 9th. 🎥 HBO #brandymelville #brandyhellville #hbo #fastfashion

♬ original sound – Daily Mail

The issue with the company was the toxic work environment in which many employees were exposed. When the company hired new employees, they were required to send full body shots of themselves, which were kept in a folder by the CEO of the company. Of the clothes the company would sell, they would only offer clothing for people who are skinny and thin-waisted. The company would only provide one singular size: “One size fits all.” This sizing platform would be very inclusive for women any size above a small. The “one size fits all” gave the perspective of “we want to be inclusive,” but in reality, it seemed that only skinny girls who wear size 00 jeans could wear their clothes. Brandy Melville is starting to close down some locations in the United States due to the controversy caused by the CEO of Brandy Melville, Stephan Marsan. 

Even though Brandy Melville may be urged to close all its locations, we may have a similar problem resulting from fast fashion controversies with a different company named Shein. Some allegations are being made against Shein, as their meager prices are due to their “forced labor, human law violations, and stealing other designers’ work.” 

Fast fashion has become wrought with the idea of what “real material” is. Many companies are starting to steal other designers’ work to sell it in their company at a cheaper price. Shein does this with their company; many products sell for as low as $2.99 when the original product is above 45 dollars. Having prices this low can be very eye-catching, but the reason for the prices being low is the dark side of the fast fashion industry.

 This industry is very dark and can create controversy, so thrifting for new clothes is the latest hot trend. Thrifting is such a great option for yourself and the environment. Thrifting is used to donate clothes people may not want or clothes they no longer wear but don’t want to throw away. Environmentally, thrifting is the better choice due to its cheap prices, but it is also reusable. If you want to be environmentally up with the trends, thrifting is the way to go instead of buying an overpriced product from Shein and Brandy Melville. 

Britney Garcia

CU Boulder '25

Britney Garcia is a contributing writer at the Her Campus chapter of the University of Colorado at Boulder. Besides being on Her Campus, Britney is a Journalism Major and is minoring in Sports Media. She is interested, especially in sports writing, and hopes to enter the field after graduation. She also loves to explore other writing styles, which range from academic to creative writing. Britney likes to watch sports in her free time. Her favorite sports she likes to watch is basketball and football, and her favorite teams are the Denver Nuggets and the Denver Broncos. Britney hopes to gain experience in writing various stories and grow as a writer.