By: Blaire Brown
I recently had the opportunity to interview a black girl working at Brandy Melville. Yes – that’s right; a black girl, working at what appears to be one of the most racially and body-typed exclusive stores in the world. Brandy Melville is an Italian clothing brand, famed for their cute, trendy fashion aimed at young teenage girls. However, recently it’s been more known for the controversy surrounding its marketing tactics and the way the brand operates, such as their ‘one size fits all’ clothing and the lack of representation found in their workforce. Wanting to find out more about the culture within the popular store, I took it upon myself to go behind the scenes.
My source had started working at Brandy late into 2019, which was exciting for her because she had held an interest in the brand from a young age. Being the only black girl currently working at her location, one would think it would be easy to feel out of place, but she considers it the complete opposite. Her working environment is very welcoming and all the other employees are pleasant and friendly, which is inconsistent with the stereotype that says all the people who work at Brandy are rude and body-shaming. For the store she works in, that stereotype is far from the truth.
Although people are more inclined to think Brandy Melville is hostile to their customers, oftentimes it is the other way around – especially for minorities. Luckily for my source, she has never felt explicitly attacked. Nevertheless, she has gotten caught on the wrong end of a few microaggressions while on the clock; one lady assumed she didn’t have to work hard to get into college due to being black. Additionally, with the ongoing pandemic, her store has had to make some necessary changes along with everybody else, such as introducing capacity limits. This causes long lines to form outside of the store, sometimes leading to cranky customers.
Despite Brandy Melville being a mostly satisfying working experience for this black woman, she doesn’t believe in what the overall message the brand attempts to convey to its customers says. She stated, “It’s 2020, and I feel like it’s important as the world is evolving and the industries are diversifying that we do too. I think that Brandy Melville can do so much more to be inclusive of more people.” This narrative should really be implemented, especially because of the big following that the brand carries among with the younger generation. She believes Brandy Melville is putting out false beauty standards into the world and ultimately changing people’s perception of what beauty looks like. Currently, of the models pictured on the website, approximately 98% are white and skinny. There is hardly any plus-size representation or racial representation, which is almost inconceivable in our day and age.
Overall, it’s evident that Brandy Melville needs to work on what messages they’re putting out into young minds. Children and teens are extremely receptive these days, and Brandy should take responsibility as a role model, presenting beauty as a concept that is more than just being tall and skinny.
But even though her opinions on Brandy’s culture have evolved and matured from when she was younger, she still doesn’t regret working there, and loves the exposure to working in retail. As a young adult she feels it’s a great opportunity, and is teaching her new lessons everyday. To summarize her thoughts, she says, “I like wearing the clothes, but I definitely don’t love it and support it as much as I did before.”.