What Happened: The popular Gen Z “one-size-fits-all” Italian brand Brandy Melville has seen itself embroiled in a backlash — again. Recently, a blogger on Xiaohongshu under the alias “mean cousin” accused the label of discriminatory hiring policies. According to the post, the brand was called out for only recruiting tall, white, skinny girls as sales advisors. The video quickly went viral on the lifestyle app, instantly amassing 25,000 likes and receiving over 1,000 comments (most of them in agreement). One netizen commented: “Although I like the brand, the company vibe is really disgusting.” At the time of publication, the blogger’s video was unavailable on the platform — presumably removed but for reasons unknown.
The Jing Take: Young local demographics are no longer tolerating body shaming. On the popular lifestyle platform, the hashtag #RejectAppearenceAnxiety (#拒绝容貌焦虑) has over 10,000 UGC instances. And as young shoppers are embracing more inclusive values, companies that do not reflect those ideals will be soon on their way out.
When it first debuted in China in 2014, Abercrombie & Fitch, renowned for its good-looking sales assistants, would see 1,000 meters long queues in front of its Shanghai boutique. This year, the brand has withdrawn from the Chinese market. This should be a warning for Brandy Melville and others who are out of step with changing tastes. And it has already faced backlash: In 2021, it was called out by Western consumers for its toxic culture. Little has changed since then.
The company has continued to foster the “BM style” on Xiaohongshu. “BM,” which stands for Brandy Melville, indicates a petite style suitable for slim girls, who fit in the label’s incredibly skinny sizing. Now the one-size-fits-all label is at a crossroad: To make garments that fit a wide-range of sizes or demand customers to fit in to their clothes. The brand may have reached agreement with the author to delete the video, but more might follow. After all, the issue appears embedded in its DNA. How can it not continue to damage the company?
The Jing Take reports on a piece of the leading news and presents our editorial team’s analysis of the key implications for the luxury industry. In the recurring column, we analyze everything from product drops and mergers to heated debate sprouting on Chinese social media.