Brandy Melville, launched in the US in 2009 and quickly became one of the hottest teen clothing labels, achieving number one rank in up-trending brands by 2014 beating rivals American Eagle, Free People, and Urban Outfitters to the top spot.
It’s now on track to be just as popular in the UK, with four London-based stores opening since 2012 and plans to expand into Oxford, Cambridge, and other cities.
So what exactly is it about this brand that makes it such a hit with teen girls? Here are ten interesting Brandy Melville facts that might give some insight.
1. The company is well known and loved in the USA but it’s actually an Italian brand. Brandy Melville has 40 stores in Italy with the first opening in 1994. Founder Silvio Marsan has produced merchandise for several Italian brands and it was his son, Stephan Marsan, who was responsible for taking the brand overseas.
2. Most Brandy Melville clothing items are one-size, designed to fit a tiny UK size 4-6. This is a controversial decision as it eliminates a large proportion of the potential customer base, but may have also helped to fuel it’s popularity with image-conscious young teen girls, giving it an exclusive cliquey image. Brandy Melville has defended their decision, pointing out many of the styles are baggy and loose-fitting, or made from stretchy fabrics to incorporate a wider range of sizes. They claim there’s “something for everyone”, even if some customers can only fit into the over-sized t-shirts and sweatshirts.
3. Brandy Melville doesn’t advertise and social media is a big part of its success. The brand has almost 4 million followers on Instagram with most images featuring the typical “Brandy girl”, who is Californian, blonde, thin, and popular, spending most of her time on the beach and with friends. The brand actively searches for models from its own customer base.
4. The brand name and logo was inspired by the fictional tale of two people – Brandy, an American girl, and Melville, an English guy who meet in Rome and fall in love.
5. The company’s product research team is made up of teen girls. The team of 20 girls works out of the Santa Monica store and is paid to research and come up with new ideas for clothing styles and t-shirt designs and to give their opinion on new season pieces.
6. In 2015 Brandy Melville was sued by rival brand Forever 21 in a claim that the retailer had copied a red with white medallion pattern fabric print copyrighted over 2 years ago, causing damages to its business. Photographer Estevan Oriol also sued Brandy Melville and H&M in 2013 over their use of copyrighted images. Brandy Melville has been accused in the past of stealing designs from several independent artists, many using Tumblr as a platform for their work.
7. Brandy Melville is a favourite clothing brand of Kylie Jenner. The star has been photographed while out and about wearing several pieces from the store.
8. The brand is also expanding into Asia, and has already opened their first stores in Bangkok, and Singapore with plans to open a new store in Malaysia this year. The sizing issue is not as controversial in these countries as the average size is much smaller than that of American or British women, and a lot of clothing is already sold as one-size.
9. The stores seem to recruit employees based on how they look rather than retail experience – contributors to glassdoor.com say that a full-size photo is a requirement of the application process and several people have reported being offered a job after simply shopping at the store.
10. Brandy Melville has had such a meteoric rise to fame that much bigger brands are now trying to emulate their success. Rival, American Eagle, launched a new sub-brand in 2015 in an attempt to steal back some of their customers. Don’t Ask Why is marketed as being “made in Italy in unique one-size-fits-most silhouettes”.