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stacks of clothes in Brandy Melville
stacks of clothes in Brandy Melville
Original photo by Kaitlyn Clarke
Style > Fashion


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 LUC chapter.

To preface, the interviewee has asked to remain anonymous because she fears her statements about the company could result in repercussions. She is one of the managers at Brandy Melville. In particular, she deals with theft within the store off of Michigan Avenue, Chicago’s luxury district. Brandy Melville is a store known for controversies with their sizing policies. All clothes are one size fits all, which many critics say excludes women who are larger than a size 4. Furthermore, this exclusivity leads some to believe that it promotes unhealthy eating habits in girls barely within their teen years. In recent years, Brandy Melville executives have been “exposed” for saying that they only want their clothing to be seen on petite white girls and for shaming those of a different race or size. Along with her work at Brandy Melville, the interviewee is an undergrad Pre-Law Environmental Policy and Culture student.

stacks of clothes in Brandy Melville
Original photo by Kaitlyn Clarke

Q: All right, what are your thoughts on Brandy Melville’s one size only clothing?

A: I think it’s not the best. I do not think it is a way that a brand should represent themselves to only fit one size fits small. I understand the economic purpose in making the clothing cheaper. Of course making one size makes it cheaper. However, I don’t think it’s something that I can agree with. 

Q: Do you think that controversy helps to build the brand or maybe tear it down?

A: I think it works in both ways. Controversy tears it down if it’s negative press but at the same time, any press is good press. People are always hearing Brandy Melville’s name and wanting to go look at it, check in, and see what it’s about. We’ve had a lot of people in the store come in just to check out what Brandy Melville was because they heard about it. So, I think it could go either way.

Q: Do you believe people view your job as a status symbol?

A: I think some girls who are younger think it’s really cool to work at Brandy Melville. For me, it’s something I don’t like to share that often. I’m not super determined to put it out there quickly.

Q: There’s a lot of assumptions made with people’s jobs, and probably more with the target audience since preteens don’t have jobs yet. What is the weirdest thing that someone has asked?

A: A couple of times a week we have girls come in and ask to take pictures with us because we’re Brandy workers. That’s definitely a little funky.  Other times we just have people come in and make TikToks or want to buy the massive Brandy Melville sign or assorted things in the store which feels a little weird. I try not to judge.

Q: Do the people making the TikToks buy anything or is it just for the purpose of an aesthetic?

A: Some do. I think it has become a status symbol to show to their friends that they went to Brandy Melville. They do tend to buy stuff but it’s more about the aesthetic, I think. 

Q: How has working at a company like this changed how you view the world?

A: It’s definitely taught me more about understanding myself. Along with that, my morals and values are clearer. I don’t necessarily agree with where I’m working and their values. But I don’t know. I think I’ve worked here during a time of growth for myself and understanding how a company works, whether I disagree or not.

Q: Do you think that the world views you differently because of the brand?

A: I definitely think so. I don’t necessarily put where I work on a poster. I tend to keep it low-key because I’m not proud of it, But again, preteens think it is super cool.

Q: How do you think social media has boosted the brand?

A: Social media is the biggest way that Brandy Melville advertises itself. There’s very rarely ads on TV, or even on your computer. They definitely see more popularity come from girls who are posting about it and that’s the primary source of advertisements. It’s all about using Instagram and Tik Tok to give them an edge.

Brandy Melville Chicago store mannequin
Original photo by Kaitlyn Clarke

Q: Do you think that the awareness of fast fashion in society has slowed down the sales?

A: I don’t know if it has substantially slowed down the sales. I think it’s definitely made people more aware of their purchases and just more self-conscious. I’ve definitely seen less people come in and choose to go thrifting or buy certain Brandy items on reseller sites such as Depop or Threadup and just other third-party apps instead of buying it new. However, we still see a lot of people come in.

Q: What was your relationship with Brandy Melville as a model versus an employee?

A: When I was a model, it was definitely more fun and less work. I would go to shoots where I could hang out with my friends. I got to travel for free and get to keep some of the clothes we tried on. It was what I would consider the ideal version of a job, especially being my first one. When I work retail, it’s just more of the scut work and actual work instead of just standing there looking pretty in clothes.

Q: How were you scouted?

A: I was in London shopping in the local Brandy store when some of the workers came up to me and asked to take a picture of my outfit. After that they brought me to the back to try on different outfits and just took pictures with my consent, of course. I was around 16, and it just kind of continued from there. They grabbed my information and I met with the CEO, other high up people, and I started being scheduled for the shoots.

Q: That sounds like a lot of fun, especially being in high school to be launched into a modeling career so quickly. Do you see the company changing anytime soon?

A: I don’t necessarily see the company changing in a massive way. Companies are constantly trying to keep up with what’s popular, what’s in and trending. So maybe in that sense, but I know surrounding all the controversy that we’ve had before (with the executives). I don’t think that they’re going to change anytime soon.

clothes hanging in Brandy Melville
Original photo by Kaitlyn Clarke

Q: How do you feel about the Brandy Melville executives?

A: They’re okay. I haven’t met a ton of them, only a few. The ones that I’ve met have been very nice. Obviously, there have been quite a few instances of behavioral issues among them. But as people when they talk to me or visit our store they’re nice. I just can’t necessarily support the controversial actions that they have had.

Q: What goes through your mind when you wear Brandy Melville?

A: It depends on what I’m wearing. I don’t really think about it. I think I’ve just been wearing it for so long among other brands that I don’t really think about what I’m putting on. Especially when it’s just for work, I just have become desensitized to it. At this point it’s just another article of clothing.

Q: So I know you work specifically with shoplifting incidents. The store is located on Michigan Avenue, where the threat of robbery is high. However, your store is different because it caters to a younger audience. What is the policy on shoplifters since they would typically be minors? 

A: For minors, we see a lot of them steal unfortunately. When they’re caught, we have to call their parents, and if they can come, then they kind of decide what to do. If we can’t reach their parents, then we either inform the minor that they have to pay, or we take all of the items and have to let them go. When it’s an adult over the age of 18, we do have to call the police, or we’ll have them pay for it. Unfortunately, if there is someone shoplifting and they leave the store, we can’t do anything about it legally.

Q: Have any parents ever said that their child did nothing wrong and tried to walk off?

A: No, not really. They normally are caught red handed and will be pulling shirts out of their bags. I think the craziest one was when a girl stole about $1,000 worth of merchandise and we caught her. Her mom came down, paid, and immediately told her that they would be driving to Goodwill and donating all the clothes.

Q: There is a certain stereotype of people who are obsessed with the brand and will buy anything they sell known as the Brandy Cult. What are your thoughts on the “Brandy Cult”?

A: It’s definitely a little weird. I don’t necessarily think the brand is crazy enough to have a cult. I can see the appeal of how the clothes being cute, but I think that constantly putting Brandy Melville on a pedestal compared to other brands isn’t always healthy, especially with the one size fits all. So it’s definitely kind of odd.

Q: Does majoring in Environmental Policy make you feel more responsible for what you see in the stores?

A: Absolutely. My heart unfortunately breaks a little bit every time we get 19 boxes of shipments with plastic and packaging. Fast fashion is always so detrimental to the planet and it definitely makes me emotional. At the same time though, I’m a college kid. I need a job, so I don’t really have many alternatives.

Q: Thank you so much for creating time in your schedule for us to speak. Is there anything I didn’t touch on that you would want people to know?

A: Not necessarily about Brandy Melville specifically, but just to be kind to retail and service industry workers. We’re minimum wage workers and we aren’t in charge of the things people get upset over. We are truly trying our best and aren’t as mean as people might think. I promise.

Kaitlyn is a Multimedia Journalism student minoring in Photography and Gender Studies at Loyola University Chicago. She is originally from Texas, and when she doesn't have a camera in her hands she can be found researching astrology, fashion trends, or swimming.