Brandy Melville is the most popular teen brand you’ve never heard of. The Italian clothing-line opened its first store in the U.S. five years ago in California—it has since expanded to 18 stores around the country. The trendy, beach-casual clothing retails between $20 and $40 and mostly comes in one size: small.
Piper Jaffray rates the brand as the most up-trending brand for teen girls, meaning it’s the most popular new brand. The store is helped by its online web store and Instagram account that boosts over two million followers—both of these display pictures of tall, thin, blonde-haired girls wearing lots of crop-tops and showing off their thigh gaps.
Of course the one-size-fits-small mentality is sparking quite a bit of controversy—teen girls are particularly susceptible to body image issues. Over 80% of 10-year-old girls are afraid of being fat. 60% of girls compare themselves to fashion models and 31% admit to unhealthy behavior like starving themselves as a strategy to lose weight. Some argue that Brandy Melville buys into this mentality, profiting off of young girl's self-esteem issues.
In a YouTube video, vlogger Trisha Paytas alleges that Brandy Melville employees would not allow her to try on clothing because of her size. saying she was told they were afraid she would stretch it out.
Yahoo Finance reached out to Brandy Melville repeatedly for comment but received no response. Jessy Longo, a manager who helped bring Brandy Melville to America, told USA Today that, “We offer such a variety of clothing. I would love for everybody to shop at Brandy…We can satisfy almost everybody, but not everybody. The one size fits most clothing might turn-off somebody if they don’t walk into the store, but if you walk in you’ll find something even if it’s a bag.”
At the Brandy Melville SoHo store, young women acknowledged that the small clothing sizes might make some people feel bad, but noted that a lot of the pieces are loose-fitting and that the clothing was intended mostly for teenagers and girls in their 20s.
Brandy Melville is not the only retailer facing heat for producing smaller sized clothing. Abercrombie and Fitch CEO Mike Jeffries told Salon, “we want to market to cool, good-looking people. We don’t market to anyone other than that.” Lululemon founder Chip Willis came under fire for saying that “frankly, some women’s bodies just don’t actually work” in his company’s yoga pants.