Growing up with two younger sisters has taught me a fair amount about women’s products. Whether it’s accompanying them as they look for cool stores to check out or simply listening to conversations at the dinner table, I always learn a thing or two about the most popular women’s products: especially clothing brands. For the most part, these discussions go in one ear and out the other as I don’t really have any interest in learning about “the cute new top at Urban Outfitters” or the “new leggings at Lululemon that make your legs look skinnier.” However, there was one brand that caught my attention because of its interesting business model. That brand is called Brandy Melville.
For those of you who don’t know Brandy Melville, it is an upscale Italian clothing brand that sells simple but stylish clothing for females. The distinguishing factor between this brand and all other female brands is that all of their clothing is sold in one size – what the store calls “one size fits most.” Many customers think of this as a good thing as it makes shopping “easy”; an item either looks good or it doesn’t. However, after further research, it appears that this size that “fits most” in the store is usually the equivalent of a small or extra-small in most other stores.
On one hand, this business decision could be a good marketing move as women sporting Brandy Melville will usually be the smaller, skinnier, more athletic type, creating the illusion that anyone wearing their products will look like that. On the other hand, I believe that this business model is quite unethical as it only caters to a very small part of the female demographic and promotes the idea that being “skinny” equals being “beautiful.”
I believe that this issue is mostly related to deontological ethics as it focuses on the rightness or wrongness of an action itself rather than the rightness or wrongness of the consequences of that action. In this case, Brandy Melville’s choice (action) to produce clothing that only fits smaller women and labeling them as “one size fits all” is morally wrong in a sense as it fails to include the body types of all women. This is an especially distasteful business decision because of the increasing number of empowering beauty campaigns that prove real beauty “isn’t just skin deep,” including, most famously, the Dove Real Beauty Campaign.