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Brandy Hellville & The Cult of Fast Fashion Premieres April 9 on HBO



HBO’s documentary, Brandy Hellville & The Cult of Fast Fashion, premieres on Tuesday, April 9. Directed by Oscar-winner Eva Orner and produced by Emmy and Academy Award winners Jonathan Chinn and Simon Chinn, the film exposes the cult-like fashion brand Brandy Melville.

The documentary explores the personal and global impacts of Brandy Melville, a fast fashion retailer with a notorious reputation. Its rise in the early 2010s Tumblr era propelled it into the must-have brand for teenage girls worldwide. Fuelled by a calculated social media presence, the company created an exclusive, unattainable aesthetic, peddled through its signature “one size fits most” clothing range and Instagram campaigns featuring its employees and select “Brandy girls”. Today, the brand boasts nearly 100 stores across 15 countries and over 80 cities.

Brandy Hellville & The Cult of Fast Fashion lifts the veil on the unsettling realities behind the shiny Instagram facade of Brandy Melville. Former and current employees, photographers, and executives—including a former senior vice president—are interviewed. Their insights reveal a troubling toxic work environment and discriminatory recruitment methods. The film exposes an environment that thrived on discriminatory work practices, preying on young girls’ desires to fit into the Brandy Melville aesthetic.


The documentary broadens its focus to examine the wider ramifications of the fast fashion industry, travelling to Accra, Ghana—a destination for the textiles that end up polluting landfills and waters. It’s here that the environmental impact of fast fashion is laid bare.

Brandy Melville has courted controversy and accusations of racism and discrimination for years. Its CEO, Stephan Marsan, who had no digital footprint until 2021, is alledgedly a faceless figurehead with a fascination for teenage girls. Employees of colour describe being relegated to the back rooms of stores while white staff were favoured and placed on the shopfloor. The brand’s exclusive “Brandy girls” were selected based on their appearance and granted special access to the company, including overseas factory trips.

According to investigative journalist Kate Taylor, who exposed several of the brand’s poor business practices in 2021, the company allegedly steals designs from other stores. Employees would snap pictures of garments they liked, which would then appear on Brandy Melville racks nationwide a few weeks later.

The trailer for the documentary notes: “Fast fashion brands convince you to buy so much because they convince you that you are not enough.”


Another voice adds: “Brandy Melville tapped into the worst impulses of being a teenage girl.”

HBO’s Brandy Hellville & The Cult of Fast Fashion will be available to stream on Max from April 9.

Alastair James is the editor in chief for Memorable TV. He has been involved in media since his university days. Alastair is passionate about television, and some of his favourite shows include Line of Duty, Luther and Traitors. He is always on the lookout for hot new shows, and is always keen to share his knowledge with others.

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