The Brandy Melville Controversy and Its Effects Across Fast Fashion

As the fast fashion industry comes under increasing public and regulatory scrutiny, PeakMetrics unveils critical insights into emerging narrative threats sparked by the new (April 9, 2024) HBO documentary "Brandy Hellville & the Cult of Fast Fashion." The documentary sparked online discourse across news and social media on the harmful effects of business practices not just by Brandy Melville—but the wider fast fashion industry. 


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PeakMetrics detected an emerging narrative threat while monitoring online discussions within the fast fashion industry. This threat stemmed from the new release of an HBO documentary exposing Brandy Melville's business practices and the broader dark sides of the fast-fashion industry.

Both news articles and social media mentions highlighted connections between criticisms in the documentary and other fashion brands, indicating potential industry-wide reputational risks.


PeakMetrics decoded two damaging narratives from the discourse surrounding the Brandy Melville documentary:

  1. The Brandy Melville brand is fatphobic, racist, and misogynist.
  2. The fast fashion industry negatively impacts the environment.

These negative narratives were associated with specific brands.  Journalists and social media users frequently cited Abercrombie & Fitch along side fatphobic/racist/misogynist narrative—as Abercrombie was the subject of a 2022 documentary on the brand’s exclusionary business practices. Meanwhile,  Shein, H&M, and Zara frequently cropped up as additional examples for the fast fashion environmental costs narrative.

Fast fashion

While the fatphobic/racist/misogynist narrative dominated discussions (43%), a smaller share of mentions highlighted the fast fashion environmental costs narrative (28%).

However, the environmental costs narrative was more prevalent on social media than in news coverage.


To mitigate the documentary's negative reputational effects, fashion brands can emphasize inclusive sizing ranges, promote body-positive messaging, and feature diverse models and influencers. This strategy can contrast other brands with Brandy Melville's "one-size-fits-all" and "skinny white girl" image. 

Fashion brands should particularly focus on amplifying this messaging, which may help downplay mentions of the narrative implicating these brands in the environmental impacts of fashion consumption – particularly on social media.

Protect Your Reputation with Narrative Intelligence

Global brands use PeakMetrics to turn chaotic data into clear insights, analyze mis- and disinformation threats, and proactively address reputational risks so they can spend more time shaping narratives around their brand. Request a demo. 

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