While shopping with my then 12 year old daughter in Soho in 2018, she led me into a store I had not heard of or seen. Its name is familiar to many ( I later found out) and I suppose I had no reason (up until this point) to know this store since it’s an exclusively teen-focused brand— Brandy Melville. I consider myself to be fashion-savvy since it’s part of my job as a stylist, to shop for wardrobe for a variety of projects. In the past I’ve worked in fashion magazines at a time when they mattered— and women actually looked to them to them for trend info, so I thought of myself as a fashion establishment-hipster. But walking into this shop with my daughter I felt the deep divide of the generation gap and it was tectonic. I felt it creeping-up for years but this visit stamped the divide clearly. I was no longer fashion-queen in my family. I was completely unaware of Brandy Melville even though it’s been sitting on Broadway in NYC for years.
The decor of the shop was All-American collegiate, with the stars and stripes hanging on the wall along with Ivy-league college banners. But, here is the thing— one size fits all cropped tops were piled on picnic tables, and others were hung on ribbon wrapped wire hangers. Yes, everything in the shop is one size and at the time it was table after table of cropped tops in a soft t-shirt fabric. The place was buzzing with prepubescent girls— some looked like they were 9 years old but their conversations revealed a very sophisticated knowledge of clothing. The shop girls were stationed at the registers and the fitting rooms with some wearing hippie-style scarves tied around the top and under their hair, flannel-plaid cropped shirts with high waisted basketball shorts, or a plaid mini skirts. Many added Doc Martins to their looks. Somehow, I convinced my 12 year old that this wasn’t for her and I got out of there after a quick whirl around and headed to Forever 21.
A year later I reconsidered my strong “no crop-top” position for my now 13 year old. After all, I recall wearing a red smocked belly shirt when I was 15 —one of the first fashion purchases I made on my own, so I agreed to check out Brandy Melville again. This time my daughter picked out a few things and I managed to hold my tongue and let it ride. We headed for the fitting room and I was happy to find the Mom bench. The fitting room was buzzing with six or so Brandigirls hanging clothing like worker bees talking Billie Eilish’s latest or what they were going to do that weekend. As my daughter tried on her selects, I watched this phenomenon of the one size play out. Turns out, size really doesn’t matter in this age group. The tops are stretchy, the teens are skinny and they do sell some sweatshirts and oversized t-shirts. The girls paraded the looks in,front their parents and then left with one or 2 items —I started to get it. This world was new to me and I had been left out—because I wasn’t 13. I reminded myself to stay in my lane not that that I could ever enter this one as anything but a spectator. “One size fits all teens” seems to work and the long line to pay was proof.
That’s the end of the story, except to say that I found out to my chagrin that Brandy Melville is an Italian company that’s been in the USA since 2009. I sculked to my room knowing that it’s all true —my time of knowing is slipping away. Thank god I have a daughter to help me know what’s cool. https://www.brandymelvilleusa.com