Former Brandy Melville employees recount horrifying experiences after trailer for HBO documentary airs

By Abby Amoakuh

Published Apr 2, 2024 at 12:42 PM

Reading time: 2 minutes

“Brandy Melville taps into the worst impulses of being a teenage girl,” one of the interviewees for the new documentary Brandy Hellville & the Cult of Fast Fashion shared in a recently released clip. The tell-all exposé has been trending on TikTok for weeks now, with both former Brandy girls and fast fashion novices delving into the controversy.


It all comes apart at the seams. #BrandyHellville & the Cult of Fast Fashion, an HBO Original Documentary that uncovers the toxic origins and culture of the teen brand and the global ramifications of mass-produced clothing, premieres April 9 on Max.

♬ original sound - Max

And, after weeks and weeks of anticipation, HBO has finally unveiled an official trailer for the film and launched a page on its website to give viewers a small idea of what to expect.

“Brandy Hellville & the Cult of Fast Fashion exposes a system of exploitation within Brandy Melville and the global fashion industry—from the fast fashion brand’s impossible beauty standards to the far-reaching consequences of cheap, mass-produced clothing,” the description ominously promises.

The upcoming documentary will consequently touch on the notorious Brandy girl aesthetic that was often criticised for idealising white, blonde, skinny figure features on underage girls. Alongside this, Brandy Melville’s “one size fits most” clothing will likely come under scrutiny. It controversially only serviced women in the size four to ten category, whereas women above this range were systematically excluded from the Brandy girl look.

Brandy Melville is frequently credited for being an unsustainable and toxic fast fashion empire and this documentary and its “hellville” play on the brand’s name will likely offer a scathing review of that.

It seems like the controversial documentary was even able to foster more awareness around the brand than there had previously been. A number of netizens and influencers, who saw how the name was trending, took to TikTok to openly ask who the heck Brandy Melville is.


@HBO im v much looking forward to this next chapter in investigative journalism. also @Old Navy Official no shade. @Brandy Melville ya got a ALOT OF NERVE HUNNI

♬ original sound - hellotefi

What is Brandy Melville?


#greenscreen #brandymelville #brandyhellville #fyp

♬ original sound - Jessica Weslie Arena

Brandy Melville is an Italian clothing company that made a transatlantic jump to the US in 2009, where it cemented its legacy. It is frequently credited for popularising the Malibu teen girl aesthetic among young women. It mainly consists of tank tops, oversized sweaters and cut-off shorts on sunkissed skin. Did I miss anything?

Oh, maybe the various allegations of abuse and the sexualisation of teenage girls that have been following the brand for many years…

After learning about the documentary, TikToker Brianna Gomez shared her experiences of working for Brandy Melville as a young woman.

“Brandy Melville would make us take photos of all our employees every single day and send them into a random email. I found out I still have all those photos. So in my email, I still have photos of these poor girls getting their photos taken every day. And it’s like hundreds of emails,” Gomez explained.

“Here is my email,” the creator said while placing the old message as her background. “You would say the store name and then the person’s job title, their full name and then the date. You would say their name and then where each of their clothing items was from.”

“First, we would take the full body photo. The full-body photo became less scary once we had masks for COVID, so thank god honestly. The second one is a close-up detail shot. And guys, this one was fine but there were multiple occasions where I would be wearing a tank top or a corset. I remember that day was the worst one because they literally had to take a straight-up picture of my boobs. They had to take a close-up and it was just my chest,” she recounted.

“It was going to men at the head of Brandy Melville,” Gomez continued. “If I still have these pictures of girls at my store, imagine what they have.”


Replying to @gremlingrrrl they had us taking pics of EVERYTHING😭😭 #brandymelville #brandyhellville #brandyworker #newportbeach #brandymelvilleemployee

♬ original sound - bri ˚୨୧⋆。✧

count how many times ur jaw drops during this… ready 4 the brandy melville documentary interview #brandyworker #brandymelville #retail #brandymelvillehaul

♬ original sound - bri ˚୨୧⋆。✧

Replying to @natasha.badger A lot of you are new here since I shared my story about Brandy Melville, so I wanted to reintroduce myself and say hi to my new followers! 👋🏼These may be some new facts for existing followers, too😉 #mystory #introducemyself #reintroducemyself #brandymelvilleemployee #gettoknowme

♬ Paradise - TELL YOUR STORY music by Ikson™

Replying to @<3 yeah lmk if you want a part two bcs i left out ALOT. DISCLAIMER AGAIN: i do not hate Brandy Melville, John G., the brand, the staff, or their merchandise. this is simply just me sharing my experience working there. i love Brandy & if i could try working there at a different location, I totally would! #fyp #grwm #storytime #brandymelville #workingatbrandymelville

♬ original sound - aniah clausell⭐️

In March The Daily Beast reported that chief executive Silvio Marsan had an office at the New York flagship store, with a bird’s-eye view of the store floor. The CEO and founder would push a button to alert co-workers to take a photo of any women checking out if he liked their look, in a similar way to which he demanded to see pictures of all current employees.

One employee even caught Marsan flipping through a binder of these images of girls aged 16 to 25 that he kept for no apparent reason and would look at “forever.” Creepy or what?

The highly anticipated documentary is set to premiere on 9 April at 9 PM.

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