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24 Feb

How Ethical Is Brandy Melville?

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Fast fashion chain Brandy Melville launched in Italy in the 80s, but its real popularity began when it hit the streets of LA in 2009. Now boasting almost 4 million Instagram followers and an extensive range of affordable and trendy clothing and accessories for teen girls—or anyone who likes a 90s throwback—we decided to investigate and ask the question: how ethical is Brandy Melville? Read on to discover how the brand treats people, the planet, and animals.

Environmental impact

Brandy Melville does not communicate sufficient information about its environmental policies, which is why it is rated ‘Very Poor’ for the planet. As a mass-produced fast fashion brand, its practices are inherently damaging, and there is no evidence it is taking any steps to reduce its impact.

Labour conditions

For people, Brandy Melville again receives our lowest score of ‘Very Poor’. The brand provides no information about important issues like payment of a living wage or working conditions.

On top of that, it regularly comes under scrutiny for its restrictive and exclusive sizing: an overwhelmingly “one-size” range that is only suited for XS-S young women. After facing backlash, the brand launched an “oversized” range that is mainly baggy sweaters and jackets still featured on young, thin, usually white, teenage girls—which misses the point entirely!

Worker reviews for the retail stores report that people are routinely fired for “gaining weight or cutting their hair” and that if you are black, your chances of being hired are slim-to-none. The brand has a long way to go before it can be considered ethical for people from the supply chain, to the storefronts, to the customers: especially those who don’t fit with the outdated ideal Brandy Melville continues to push.

Animal welfare

It should come as no shock now to learn that Brandy Melville communicates nothing about animal welfare, either. There is no publicly available information, which means the brand has not been assessed for its treatment of animals and receives our lowest score by default.

Overall rating: We Avoid

Overall, Brandy Melville receives our lowest rating of ‘We Avoid’. This brand provides insufficient relevant information about if and how it reduces its impact on people, the planet, and animals. Transparency is vital in sustainable fashion, and you have a right to know how the products you buy affect the issues you care about!

While sustainable brands with hundreds of products under $35 may not be realistic—and nor should it be, if we talk about the true cost of fashion—there are a few options out there to fill that 90s-shaped void in your soul. Read our articles on affordable sustainable brands and ethical 90s fashion, or check out these options below.

See the rating.

Good swaps

Ethical alternatives to Brandy Melville


Rated: Good

CHNGE is a US-based more sustainable fashion brand using 100% organic material, built to last a lifetime while making a statement.

Find CHNGE's inclusive clothes in sizes 2XS-4XL.

See the rating.


Honest Basics

Rated: Good

Honest Basics is a GOTS-certified basics brand based in Germany. It's on a mission to make more sustainable fashion accessible to everyone, by keeping prices low, making quality basics that everyone has in their wardrobe, and constantly improving the sustainability of its products and supply chain.

The range is available in sizes XS-2XL.

See the rating.

Shop Honest Basics.


Rated: Good

Born in Byron Bay, Australia, Afends is a more responsible brand leading the way in hemp fashion. Drawing inspiration from the environment, streetwear, and surf culture, Afends’ mission is to create more sustainable clothing through innovation, action, and positive change. As true hemp advocates, it purchased 100 acres of farmland called Sleepy Hollow to grow its own hemp crops and ignite the hemp revolution.

Find most of the range in sizes XS-XL.

See the rating.

Shop Afends.

Lucy & Yak

Rated: Good

Independent, handmade, and responsible, we love Lucy & Yak’s playful take on classic garments. With unisex designs for everyone, this UK brand will brighten up your day.

Find pieces inclusively sized in UK 4-32.

See the rating.

Shop Lucy & Yak.


Rated: Good

LA-based Reformation creates killer clothes that don’t kill the environment. The brand ensures that a proportion of its suppliers pay a living wage, and provides training to its suppliers to improve working conditions for workers in its supply chain.

Its range is available in sizes XS-3XL.

See the rating.

Shop Reformation @ LVRSustainable.

Shop Reformation Pre-Owned @ Vestiaire Collective.

Shop Reformation @ Farfetch.

Shop Reformation.

Editor's note

Feature image via nu-in, all other images via brands mentioned. We love to recommend some of the best sustainable brands, rated "Good" or "Great". We also encourage shopping pre-owned as another great way to reduce the impact of our fashion choices. Good On You publishes the world’s most comprehensive ratings of fashion brands’ impact on people, the planet and animals. Use Good On You to search thousands of rated brands.

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