an open letter to the folks who run brandy melville.
(for those who don’t know, brandy melville is a teen clothing retailer catering to the more wealthy and known for their ‘one size fits most’ policy.)
Hey, Brandy Melville.
Let me start off by saying that I am not a Brandy girl. I am Asian-American, 5’3″, with a waist the same size as the models on the website (only they’re at least five inches taller). My hair is long, but it’s also wavy and not blonde. My eyes are not blue, and my teeth are far from perfect and straight. However, I do love Brandy’s style, I’ll commend you on that. The long cardigans, Valencia-washed Instagram, the careful assosiation with teen idols – all American girls such as Taylor Swift, the latest photo on your Instagram feed – it’s some remarkable branding.
Along with that branding, of course, is your typical Brandy girl. 5’7″ or 5’8″, with waist-length blonde hair, blue or green eyes, and one of those bodies that only years and years of green dieting and exercise can get you. After scrolling through your website, I found exactly one model of color, and not on the front page. She was buried in the ‘graphics’ section. Granted, she also had the body of the stereotypical Brandy girl.
Remember Maggie Todd? She’s one of your most popular models, with 77.8 k Instagram followers, and also the only brunette in a 4:47 video of a 2013 Brandy shoot. Still white, still green-eyed, but different none-the-less. If that teeny bit of diversity earned Maggie and your brand thousands of fans, imagine what models of every body type and every race and different nuances of life could earn you.
I get it, you can do whatever you want, but just think about it. Think about the 50% or so of girls who can’t wear your clothes. You’re taking the body of potential customers and slashing it in half right off the bat. Isn’t that bad for business? Think about fashion giants H&M and Forever 21, who are currently mooching off your customers with their newly launched plus-size lines. And for heaven’s sake, think of the thousands of gorgeous, equally Cali-chic girls who aren’t getting hired by your brand because they aren’t white enough or tiny enough.
My point is, yeah, there are lots of girls who can wear your clothes and will. But there are even more girls who can’t wear your clothes, and I bet some of them would want to if you expanded your size range and got models that they could relate to. Blonde sun-kissed beach babes are great, but what about the bubbly Brazilians with jet-black hair and cutting eyes? The young Liu Wen’s with creamy complexions and deep, caramel-toned eyes? Brandy Melville, you’re even forgetting the New York socialite whose city you slathered on the back of your bomber jackets. Love the inside. Embrace differences. Travel the world.
Isn’t that what it says on your shopping bags?
Definitely not from California.