The One-Size Cult of Brandy Melville
The Brandy Melville girl is very easy to find in a crowd. There’s a beautiful simplicity to her aesthetic and style; she’s the everyday girl-next-door. Oh, and most importantly, the Brandy Girl wears one size. Each Brandy Melville store has a full team of girls who look exactly like this. They are all the same height, weight and of course, they all have a large Instagram following. It’s platform Doc Martens, oversized hoodies and plaid mini skirts galore. Even the Instagram feeds of “Brandy Girls” are carbon copies of each other, with trendy pics of them in their bedrooms, eating out at chic restaurants with friends, walking through the streets of NYC, at the beach or sipping iced coffee at the mall. The most ideal image of Brandy Melville is shown through their choice of models. As you scroll through their Instagram and website, you will notice two striking factors that categorize every single one of their models: They are all skinny and white. This strategy seems to work because it embodies an image that is consistent with the message that the brand is trying to project, which is an attainable (or semi-attainable) aspiration. The message is this: Those hot, “real” eighteen or twenty-something-year-olds that appear in the images could be you. You can join the crew of young, skinny, trendy Brandy Girls. These seemingly normal pictures evoke a lifestyle that thirteen to eighteen-year-old girls tend to fantasize about, easily creating a cult mentality of teenage girls wanting to be like Brandy Melville models. This powers the Instagram take over that is Brandy Melville. Admirers of the brand who follow Brandy Girls or the official account produce Earned Media—a modern form of publicity gained through advertising—by tagging and hashtagging the brand in their posts. They wear the clothes and location-tag aesthetically pleasing retail stores. Doing this will potentially boost the user’s likes, followers and chance of being featured on the account. The official Brandy Melville account on Instagram launched in 2011 and has been tagging, sharing and enrolling followers (or cult members) ever since. Many of its stars are professional models; others are just fangirls who have been picked up as brand ambassadors, picking up hundreds of thousands of their own acolytes in the process.