How Ethical Is Brandy Melville? - Good On You
24 Feb

How Ethical Is Brandy Melville?

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ethical for people from the supply chain, to the storefronts, to the customers: especially those who don’t fit with the outdated ideal Brandy Melville continues to push.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

CHNGE

Rated: Great

CHNGE is a 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.

Shop CHNGE.

Honest Basics

Rated: Great

Honest Basics is a GOTS-certified basics brand based in Germany. It's on a mission to make 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-L.

See the rating.

Shop Honest Basics.

nu-in

Rated: Good

nu-in is a Portuguese brand that features activewear, loungewear, and underwear collections, as well as trend-led men's and women's ranges. It prioritises the planet by using a high proportion of eco-friendly materials, and reuses offcuts to minimise textile waste. The brand is inclusively sized, and features an extended sizing range up to 6XL!

See the rating.

Shop nu-in.

Afends

Rated: Good

Afends is a Byron Bay based fashion brand leading the way in organic hemp fashion, using renewable energy in its supply chain to reduce its climate impact. You can find the full range in sizes XS-XL.

See the rating.

Shop Afends.

Lucy & Yak

Rated: Good

Independent, handmade, and ethical, we love Lucy & Yak’s playful take on the dungaree. With a range for both men and women, this UK brand will brighten up your day.

See the rating.

Shop Lucy & Yak.

Reformation

Rated: Good

LA-based Reformation creates killer clothes that don’t kill the environment. The brand also ensures that a large proportion of its suppliers pay a living wage. Go Reformation!

See the rating.

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. Good On You publishes the world’s most comprehensive ratings of fashion brands’ impact on people, the planet and animals. 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. Use our Directory to search more than 3,000 brands. We may earn a commission on sales with top-rated partners made using our offer codes or affiliate links.

Ethical brand ratings. There’s an app for that.

Wear the change you want to see. Download our app to discover ethical brands and see how your favourites measure up.