While teen-focused retailers like Abercrombie & Fitch have given into pressures of public scrutiny and will finally offer larger sizes up to a 14, Brandy Melville is bucking the trend and saying “slim girls only.” The latest shopping mecca for teen girls is quickly gaining popularity for its trendy wares and probably a little bit for its size exclusivity. Brandy Melville only sells clothing in small or “one size fits most” options, with a few mediums thrown in for good measure. Among the offerings are crop tops, side and back-baring tanks and bralets, swingy trapeze dresses and short shorts. The models are almost exclusively white; the clothes, trendy but unremarkable. One look through the store’s latest, and you won’t discover anything particularly groundbreaking. Stores that peddle similar wares in a wider variety of sizes, like Nasty Gal, boast comparable silhouettes, but a more diverse and edgier selection.
Brandy Melville’s strong suit? Pricing. Whereas retailers like Abercrombie’s offerings are pretty pricey (especially if you’re working with a minor’s budget), you can buy a pair of Brandy Melville shorts for $10 or tops for $20. The clothes are accessible, but to only a small percentage of the population. The Huffington Post says that jean sizes don’t go above a size 2.
Of course, there is concern over what kind of message the store is sending to teenage girls about their bodies. In an open letter to the brand penned by 18-year-old Lani Renaldo for The Huffington Post, she calls out the brand for its troubling policies and misleading brand identification: “‘One size fits all’ clothing is advertised, but again, this is misleading unless you fall under the SPECIFIC category of being THIN enough to fit the clothing! In buying clothing from Brandy, I’ve been limited to long tank-tops, due to the fact that I have a large chest size.” Brandy Melville also touts itself as a brand representing “diverse, California girls.” One look at the brand’s Instagram page or website will indicate the exact opposite.
Many people have blamed the decline in popularity of brands like Abercrombie & Fitch on the fact that teenagers are looking for uniqueness and inclusivity when they shop. But the case of Brandy Melville proves that this simply is not what’s going on. Cali brand PacSun has been selling Brandy Melville’s wares in its stores and President and CEO Gary Schoenfeld sees nothing wrong with the sizing. “The way one person may wear something could be completely different with how someone else wears it, making the product versatile and offering the consumer a chance to demonstrate their personal style,” he told USA Today.
Still, girls are complaining they can’t fit into the clothes and that Brandy Melville’s options make them feel fat. And that’s directly out of line with its “one size fits most” policy. If the sizes aren’t fitting most girls and making them feel unnecessarily conscious about their figures, perhaps it’s time to review the sizing to be more inclusive? We’re sure the allure of being small enough to fit into a popular brand is not lost on the folks at Brandy Melville. But it is an old trope that’s driven the retail market for years, and it’s about time that changed.