Longtime shoppers of fashion retailer Brandy Melville are voicing their grievances about the brand’s shift toward larger sizing and the fact that they’re now having trouble finding articles of clothing that properly fit them.
Founded in Italy by entrepreneur Silvio Marsan and his son Stefan in the early 1980s, Brandy Melville opened its first store in the United States in 2009 in the Westwood neighborhood of Los Angeles. It soon rose in the ranks, becoming one of the most coveted brands for teenage girls in the United States — despite long operating on a controversial “one size fits most” philosophy that discriminates against bodies larger than size 4.
Some Gen Z shoppers who are within the 0 to 4 size category have claimed that their previous one-stop shop for trendy clothing no longer has items that fit them. Several TikTok users and avid Brandy Melville consumers are alleging that the retailer has sized up nearly all of their items, leaving them ill-fitting on smaller bodies.
Mia Griggs (@miagriggs), a 20-year-old college student in New Jersey, is one consumer who’s taken issue with this alleged sudden shift in sizing. On Aug. 13, she posted a video of herself trying on a pair of pants from Brandy Melville that were too big for her. “Being small and finding clothes is hard,” she captioned her TikTok.
Additional creators have stitched their responses with Griggs’s video, including 21-year-old model Sophi Mend (@sethroganshairynips), whose Aug. 31 TikTok addressing this matter has more than 1.6 million views as of reporting.
“I’m being so for real right now when I say smaller sizes don’t exist anymore,” Mend said. “My whole life I’ve been an extra small to an extra, extra small … I would love to know why, at the peak of [the] body diversity and size inclusivity movement, why, as a 21-year-old woman … it is not possible for me to walk into a store and ask for their smallest size and it would still f***ing be large on me.”
Mend, who said she is 5’8″, claimed that Brandy Melville is one of the only stores where she can buy pants that are going to fit her body type, yet she allegedly hasn’t been able to buy any “for the past year or so” due to the fact that none of them fit her anymore.
“Pretty much every f***ing store I go to now has sizes up to four XL, which is fantabulous, and I really, really love that. Genuinely, I do,” she emphasized. “But we’re literally forgetting there’s another side of spectrum of women that also have a really hard to finding clothing in their size. And it’s not because they’re starving themselves … that’s just how some women are built.”
TikTok user @wafflecocaine wrote in response to Mend’s video that this is an issue similarly felt by women who wear bigger sizes and it’s a result of vanity sizing: “This is literally an issue for bigger people too. It’s so so hard to find a size now because of the vanity sizing.”
@hazolini corroborated Mend’s claims, having commented, “I NOTICED TOO!! All the skirts and shorts are suddenly huge on me?? Like what happened to mini skirts!!”
What is vanity sizing?
Vanity sizing, according to Forbes, refers to “the labeling of clothes with sizes smaller than the actual cut of the items” as a means of making shoppers feel skinnier due to the fact that “Americans have grown physically larger.” In doing this, however, the mere purpose of a label, to convey an accurate size, loses all of its meaning.
“For me, it’s a mixed experience,” journalist Eliana Dockterman wrote for Time about her trip to a Brandy Melville location in New York City. “I’m 5 ft. 9 in. and, though we’ve already established sizing is meaningless, the clothes in my closet are mostly sizes 4 or 6. But when I try on the stretchy shorts and skirts, the fit is so tight it feels like I’m wearing underwear. Immediately I understand why critics say this store fuels body-image issues.”
What can we do about it?
The clothing industry as a whole, according to eating disorder dietitian and body-image specialist Katherine Metzelaar, needs a major “overhaul” because, she said, “sizing has been distorted for some time.”
“For example, unlike with men’s pants, where you can find your exact measurements, women’s clothing has long been a guess (at best) as to what fits. Naturally because every clothing brand has different manufactures that use different measurements for sizing, it will keep changing,” Metzelaar told In The Know by Yahoo via email. “Every day in working with clients, I hear their frustration and pain for not being able to find clothes that fit them. The solution is to make clothing inclusive, have a variety of all different sizes and have it be based on numbered measurements and not arbitrary s, m, l, xl, xxl, etc.”
Added Metzelaar, “Women in larger bodies have long been asking and begging for more inclusive sizing, and people don’t realize that this would benefit everyone including those at the smallest end of the size spectrum.”
On Aug. 17, after coming across Griggs’s video, 19-year-old Sophia Acosta (@sophiaacsta) further corroborated Metzelaar’s point in her own video addressing the Brandy Melville controversy.
“I think they made their sizes bigger recently, and since their clothes are one size fits all, a majority of the people that used to buy their clothes are obviously skinny because the clothes used to be for skinny people,” Acosta said. “And now that they’re bigger, it doesn’t even fit their majority audience. And my thing is, instead of just making the clothes bigger, why not just add sizes?”
As of reporting, Brandy Melville has not responded to a request for comment from In The Know.
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