With the immense popularity of its clothing items and trendy accessories, Italian clothing brand Brandy Melville rose to fame with its fashionable appeal to today’s generation of teens all over the globe. Reaching its ultimate peak in success in 2014, Brandy Melville has opened its stores all over the globe, including in the United States, Europe, Canada and Asia.
The brand has received massive recognition and success for its simplicity and versatility, but has also gone under fire for its problematic tendencies.
I remember first looking back at Brandy Melville’s website in 2015, dreaming of purchasing and flaunting their simplistic, yet all-american aesthetic clothing. As I scrolled down the catalog, I noticed something that particularly caught my eye, and apparently, the eyes of many other girls as well. With every scroll came a set of white, blonde girls who repetitively modeled the clothing items. For every piece of clothing, there was a model with unarguably similar eurocentric features to the next.
This came off as utterly astonishing to me, and I always wondered whether or not I was simply the only one who noticed, hearing everyone babble about how perfect their clothing line was. The lack in representation of minority models in America is a massive issue in general, but it has been apparent that Brandy Melville serves as a prime example.
In my experience of scouting their website and social media accounts, of course, I discovered the few occasional “token” models; girls belonging to racial and ethnic minority groups. To the company, this might be solely a form of compensation for the lack of representation it has imbedded within its core, completely filling the rest of their catalogs and social media feeds with tall, skinny, white girls.
“Why is it that all the Brandy models must look the same? I mean, flat-chested, fair skinned, blonde hair… yes, you find these girls in California, but if we’re talking about diversity, this isn’t.” – Lani Renaldo, the Huffington Post
It led to me, a teenage Hispanic-American girl, contemplating whether or not this brand would let me feel good about myself in their clothes. I did have a handful of trouble finding someone who shared similar features as me modeling the clothing items; items that I believed would be perfect for my sense of style. This ultimately altered my views of this popular company as a whole. It seemed be an issue that is not expected to be super prevalent in our supposed era of ‘acceptance’ and ‘diversity’. Unfortunately, the representation women of color get in the media and in society overall is lacking, and Brandy Melville only feeds into it, unconsciously targeting teenage girls.
Brandy Melville has been receiving recurring backlash from teens all over the globe for this issue, but they have yet to release any proper statement on a topic that has kept them so controversial for years. The brand continues to mainly represent Caucasian models on their social media and advertising outlets, deeming them as condoning of the uneven ratio of white models to models of color.
Featured image courtesy of Brandy Melville