Italian fashion brand Brandy Melville, a favorite among China’s Gen Z consumers, recently faced pushback on Xiaohongshu, one of the country’s top social media and e-commerce platforms.
It started on May 11, when a blogger using the alias ‘Mean Cousin’ roasted the company for its discriminatory hiring policies and problematic messages on Xiaohongshu. The video quickly amassed more than 1,000 comments.
Since arriving in China in 2019, Brandy Melville has become so popular as to birth a new term, ‘BM style.’ Female patrons who proudly don the brand even identify as ‘BM girls.’
brandy melville is so small in china (compared to the sizes in the U.S) that the girls that work there and constantly wear their stuff are called “BMgirls” pic.twitter.com/PIlSVV3aQk— luna (@jseokcals) May 5, 2022
brandy melville is so small in china (compared to the sizes in the U.S) that the girls that work there and constantly wear their stuff are called “BMgirls” pic.twitter.com/PIlSVV3aQk
— luna (@jseokcals) May 5, 2022
According to Mean Cousin, while Brandy Melville is embraced by many in China, it frequently comes under fire overseas. The blogger also condemned the brand’s one-size-fits-all apparel, which she claimed feeds into body image issues.
“On their Instagram page, you will see that all their models are skinny, leggy, and tall,” Mean Cousin pointed out.
Brandy Melville’s leggy models, whom blogger Mean Cousin describes as unrepresentative of most girls. Screengrab via Xiaohongshu
Furthermore, the blogger has drawn parallels between Brandy Melville’s discriminatory hiring policies abroad and in China. She accused the brand of only hiring girls who fit a specific profile.
In the West, this often means that employees are white and blonde. The blogger claims that similar discriminatory hiring practices can be found in China.
“If you walk into Brandy Melville in Beijing and Shanghai, you will meet the best-looking people in the city. Some patrons visit the store just to take a photo with the attractive employees there,” she said.
Brandy Melville employees in China. Screengrab via Xiaohongshu
“This is the most disgusting part of Brandy Melville: It strives to promote the ‘white, young, and skinny’ beauty standard,” lamented the blogger. “It makes girls believe that you are as beautiful as Chinese celebrities and Brandy Melville employees if you can fit into their clothes.”
The blogger ended the video by encouraging ‘BM girls’ to stop dieting and sacrificing their health to fit into Brandy Melville apparel.
The video was an instant hit on Xiaohongshu and received more than 25,000 likes. Many heartily agreed with the blogger.
“The most disappointing brand,” reads the most upvoted comment with more than 5,000 likes.
Another netizen opined, “Although I like their style, the company’s vibe is really disgusting.”
Brandy Melville, the darling of American celebrities such as Kendall Jenner and Hailey Bieber, also counts Chinese stars such as Yang Mi and NaNa OuYang among its fans. A chart indicating the ideal weight and height for the quintessential ‘BM girl’ floated around the internet at one point, reported the BBC.
Does this story sound familiar? Well, it should: We recently wrote about how American fashion label Abercrombie once practiced similar discriminatory policies, as exposed in the controversial Netflix documentary White Hot. It seems this ‘call-out culture’ trend is an example of younger generations’ increased awareness of the dangers of body shaming and the lack of diversity in fashion.
Cover image via Twitter
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