Brandy Melville, the cult favorite “one-size-fits-most” brand targeted at teen girls, has an atmosphere fostered by its CEO that promotes misogyny and racism, according to a radioactive report from Insider.
CEO Stephen Marsan created a toxic workplace where only white, thin, pretty girls were allowed to work in his stores, the Insider report claimed.
Former Senior Vice President Luca Rotondo said she was told by Marsan to hire only girls who fit his specifications. “If she was black, if she was fat … he didn’t want them in the store,” Rotondo told Insider. Insider also reported multiple women were fired for their physical appearance and race.
Brandy Melville didn’t respond to a request for comment from The Post. Marsan and other senior executives didn’t respond to Insider’s requests for comment, according to the publication.
The report said Marsan was so involved in every area of the business he would even ask for full-body pictures of girls — some as young as 14 — before he would green light store managers to hire them.
And once girls began working at Brandy Melville, they were expected to keep sending full-body pictures to Marsan whenever they were at the store. Marsan claimed it was because he wanted to keep an eye on fashion trends.
Despite the allegedly toxic culture, multiple female employees said they felt it was a status symbol to work at such an exciting brand, according to the Insider report. And for the girls management favored — known as “special snowflakes” — they were treated with kid gloves. These girls were given access to the company’s Soho loft, flown on trips to Hawaii and Italy and were taken on shopping sprees.
But those perks led to inappropriate behavior, according to the report. The favored female employees were expected to try on new clothes in front of male management — and strip down in front of them, the report said.
One 21-year-old manager said she was sexually assaulted at the company’s Soho loft by a man who ran a number of Brandy Melville stores, according to Insider.
“I always felt like I had to do what they were asking or I would lose my position,” a former Brandy Melville employee told Insider about why she felt forced to change in front of male executives.Sipa USA via AP
Marsan launched the brand in Italy in the 1990s before bringing it to the US in 2009.
As the company continued its ascent, Marsan became more controlling, according to the report. Insider wrote that in 2013, he directed staff at various stores to remove all but the three smallest sizes of clothing from the floor. From then on, Brandy Melville adopted the “one-size-fits-most” approach of only offering small sizes.
Meanwhile, the Insider report also said Marsan sent text messages to a group text named “Brandy Melville gags” that were racist, misogynistic and anti-Semitic.
In the group chat — which included roughly 30 of Marsan’s male friends and coworkers, according to the report — Marsan made at least 24 references to Adolf Hitler. He sent various photos of and jokes about Hitler. One edited photo of the Nazi leader was captioned “Nobel Prize for barbecue,” the report said.
Marsan also sent countless racist messages, according to the Insider report. At one point, the report said, he sent a picture of the show Happy Days with the caption, “There were no Black people in this show—that’s why it was called ‘Happy Days.’”
The group also exchanged multiple pornographic images, according to the report.
Just hours after the explosive story, Pacsun — the lone U.S. Brandy Melville wholesaler — said they were “deeply troubled” by the report and re-evaluating their relationship with the brand, according to Insider.
The company has a presence in 15 countries. While it explored various financing deals, including an initial public offering, Brandy Melville remains private. It’s unclear what the company’s revenue is, but former executives say it’s north of $250 million a year, Insider said.
The manager who told Insider she was sexually assaulted said she thinks the best thing is to close up shop, according to the outlet. “They would be doing everyone a favor to shut this business down,” she said.