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for people from the supply chain, to the storefronts, to the customers: especially those who don’t fit with the outdated ideal Brandy Melville continues to push.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