Brandy Melville Controversy: Being Charged with Toxic Culture and Much Worse

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Brandy Melville is a popular European line of apparel and accessories aimed squarely at modern young ladies. Brandy Melville’s one-size-fits-all Italian-made apparel line is a greener and more cost-effective option for consumers and the company alike.

The enterprise, founded by Italian Silvio Marsan, found its greatest success in the Golden State. The legendary love story between an American girl named Brandy and an English man named Melville provided the inspiration for the brand’s name and emblem.

History of Brandy Melville

Brandy Melville was founded by Silvio Marson and his son Stephan in the early 1980s in Italy. They built their first U.S. store in Los Angeles’ Westwood neighborhood, close to the UCLA campus, in 2009. Young women were drawn to the company in large part because of its “Malibu adolescent” vibe. Brandy Melville’s Instagram account currently boasts more than 3.4 million followers. The shop’s aesthetics are characterized by a bleached wood motif and a subtle color palette.

Products are available on the Brandy Melville online and at brick-and-mortar locations throughout Europe, the United States, Asia, Canada, the United Kingdom, and Australia.

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Even while competitors like aerie and Rihanna’s Savage x Fenty championed inclusivity, the brand’s “one-size-fits-all” sizing and nearly all-white models drew criticism for perpetuating stereotypes.

Business Insider claims that things were far worse at Brandy Melville, with executives demanding full-body pictures of sales employees (often high school students) and ordering managers to fire anyone they deemed to be inconsistent with the company’s image.

brandy melville controversy

CEO Stephan Marsan “didn’t want people in the store if they were Black or overweight,” a former senior vice president, Luca Rotondo, told Insider. During his nearly ten years at Brandy Melville, Rotondo claims he was told to lay off “hundreds” of workers.

To illustrate, he showed Insider a screenshot of a manager with black hair in Newport Beach, California. Italian speaker Marsan complained that the establishment was “only recruiting pieces of garbage,” who would ruin Brandy Melville’s carefully crafted image of being white, slim, and blonde.

And it extends even beyond. The antisemitism detailed in the insider report is in addition to the overt racism and sexism. Taylor, a reporter, relates an incident in which Marsan pasted his face onto Hitler’s body for an executive discussion (the threads also included pornography, the N-word, and more).

In two separate instances

Canadian business owners who refused Marsan’s order to terminate staff who didn’t conform to his all-white, all-thin principles lost their jobs. Brandy Melville has 94 outlets worldwide; 34 of them are located in the United States. However, Bastiat USA, the corporation responsible for operating Brandy Melville in the United States, has disputed that it “has ever fired an employee on the basis of his or her race.” Marsan is unable to give interviews.

The proprietors “had such a wonderful potential to provide a safe, inclusive venue for young women, and instead, you took advantage of them,” the victim said. Ex-employee Mina Marlena spoke to Insider. The outlet further says that top executives are shown images of retail job prospects to verify they uphold Marsan’s criteria.

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An ex-New York manager added

“There was no way to spin it.” She fits the bill because she is small in stature, Caucasian, blonde, and attractive; therefore, she should be hired.

Workers told Insider that they would “model” clothing for the executives and that some as young as 14 would take their shirts off in the hope of getting promotions or benefits like nights at the brand’s SoHo townhouse or even pay raises. Several workers have accused Marsan of providing booze to minors and engaging in inappropriate touching.

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