Brandy Hellville & the Cult of Fast Fashion Features Worn Out’s Alyssa Hardy

Tuesday, May 7, 2024

The new HBO documentary Brandy Hellville & the Cult of Fast Fashion has been making waves for its bold and shocking coverage of teen clothing franchise Brandy Melville. In the documentary, filmmaker Eva Orner uncovers Brandy Melville’s exploitative methods at every level of operation. The film also features fashion expert Alyssa Hardy, author of Worn Out: How Our Clothes Cover Up Fashion’s Sins.



Known for their “one size fits all” policy, Brandy Melville disguises a toxic teenage beauty standard beneath a Californian aesthetic. Through targeted and effective social media campaigns, the brand’s popularity rose to cult-like heights among an impressionable teenage girl demographic. Behind the scenes, discriminatory recruiting practices, toxic management, and overt racism were common in reports about the working environment. From the exploitation of employees to a wasteful production cycle, Orner argues, the franchise’s unethical practices left no scandal untouched.


The true crisis, however, lies in what Brandy Melville is symbolic of: the fast-fashion endemic as a whole. As a seasoned journalistic voice in the fashion realm, expert Alyssa Hardy is a fitting commentator on the industry’s dark side. Hardy, as an interviewee in the documentary, discusses how teen girls are socialized into Brandy Melville’s “one size fits all” mentality, and how the brand’s exclusive aesthetic fueled the company’s growth while perpetuating harmful beauty standards. It comes as no surprise that the brand’s intentional limited sizing was meant to retain “exclusivity” and fostered a body-shaming culture both in the workplace and beyond.


Indeed, from “impossible beauty standards to the far-reaching consequences of cheap, mass-produced clothing,” the sentiment behind Brandy Hellville echoes that of Hardy’s book Worn Out. An unflinching exposé of those most victimized by the fashion industry, Worn Out makes the case for slowing down binge-buying culture and implementing alternative models for real change. Through Hardy’s focus on the exploitation of garment workers behind the global clothing pipeline, readers are faced with the true ethical and environmental cost of our consumption choices. Anyone passionate about fashion will enjoy this relevant, empathetic, and eye-opening read.


For more information on the documentary, read Alyssa Hardy’s interview with director Eva Orner, where they discuss “film, fast fashion, and what [they] hope for the future of fast fashion.”


For more about Worn Out: How Our Clothes Cover Up Fashion’s Sins, read an excerpt in Teen Vogue.




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