Will Gen Z ditch Brandy Melville for wanting only pretty, thin, young, white workers?
Brandy Melville is a hot contemporary casual clothing retailer that caters to Gen Z female consumers who spend hours on TikTok and are fashion conscious.
The fast-fashion retailer with stores in 14 states and Washington, D.C. has an even greater reach online with its digital native customer base. The vast majority of items it sells are priced at below $40 and come in just a single size (small), which runs contrary to the trend of more inclusive sizing and pricing at retail.
The company, according to current and former employees, has a dark side that could dramatically change how it is viewed in the U.S. and in some of the 12 markets in Asia, Europe the Middle East and North America where it also does business.
Business Insider recently interviewed more than 30 current and former employees of the company who described an atmosphere created by CEO Stephan Marsan that is hostile to associates who were not pretty, thin, young and white. The report also said Brandy Melville’s CEO also has a preference for blonde associates over those with darker hair.
Luca Rotondo, a former senior vice president at Brandy Melville, said that Mr. Marsan would demand that sales associates and managers be fired if they did not fit his ideal.
“If she was Black, if she was fat … he didn’t want them in the store,” said Mr. Rotondo, who claims he was ordered by Mr. Marsan to fire hundreds of workers for illegitimate reasons.
Two lawsuits to date have been filed against the company by former employees, including Mr. Rotondo, alleging that they were let go after refusing to fire workers based on their skin color or physical attractiveness.
Bastiat USA, which operates Brandy Melville stores in the U.S., has dismissed the allegations made against the company.
The accusations made against Brandy Melville appear similar to those that took Abercrombie & Fitch years from which to rebound.
Mike Jeffries, who is widely credited with the rise of Abercrombie & Fitch in the 1990’s and subsequently blamed for the chain’s diminished relevance with younger consumers, stepped down as CEO in 2014. He was widely criticised for his emphasis on hiring employees who fit A&F’s “beautiful people” culture that included referring to store associates as models.
- Brandy Melville: Behind the scenes at the ‘evil’ fast-fashion empire – Business Insider
- Brandy Melville
- Controversial CEO leaves Abercrombie & Fitch – RetailWire
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: How do you expect consumers who have purchased goods from Brandy Melville to react to the news about its alleged hiring and employment practices around age, attractiveness, race and size? What should Brandy Melville do if the allegations are largely correct and what should it do if they are not?