The teen fashion brand Brandy Melville is being accused of employment discrimination after former senior vice president Luca Rotondo revealed inside information about the company's hiring practices.
The Italian store that came to the U.S. in 2009 had a specific look CEO Stephan Marsan wanted, reported Insider. "If she was Black, if she was fat... he didn't want them in the store," Rotondo said. Marsan reportedly called executives "special snowflakes" and would "reward" them with use of the company credit card, going on shopping sprees, taking trips to Hawaii or Italy, and using the company-owned flat in SoHo.
One accusation involving that flat in SoHo came in 2015 when Andrea Castagnasso, who owns some Italian stores, allegedly drugged and raped a 21-year-old. Insider said that they reviewed the woman's medical records and corroborated the account with a co-worker. She was too scared to press charges because "she may lose her working visa."
Screenshots of a 2019 message show Marsan denying one potential store manager in Newport Beach, California because of the way she looked. The email from Marsan said in Italian that the store was "only hiring pieces of shit" and risked going out of business. "Kick her out."
Another employee in New York and California stores said that at one point in 2013 Marsan came in throwing out all sizes above a size 4.
Thus far, there are eight employees who worked for the company in the last eight years alleging that an employee's pay was frequently based on her photos. More attractive staffers were given higher pay. Black staff was ordered to work in the storeroom or "quiet hours." They were then replaced when a white staffer was brought in, said employees.
"There was no sugarcoating it... It was, 'She is skinny, white, blond, and pretty—let's hire her,'" said one anonymous former New York regional manager.
Screen captures also revealed CEO and top executives sharing jokes about Adolf Hitler and the Holocaust in a group chat called "Brandy Melville Gags." Marsan sent a photo of his own photo pasted on Hitler's body. Another showed an emaciated woman from a concentration camp in her underwear with a photoshopped sash saying, "Miss Auschwitz 1943." Another image of Hitler had "Nobel Prize for barbecue" written in Italian.
Other screen captures show an alleged Canadian store manager, Franco Sorgi, who is accused of saying that he didn't want any Black or overweight women to wear his clothes. he said he only wanted "good-looking rich little girls" wearing his clothes because they are "nice and delicate." He too had a knack for making racist jokes.
The group chat had a photo of the Happy Days cast captioned, "There were no Black people in this show—that's why it was called 'Happy Days.'" Another was a National Geographic magazine cover with an ape next to a young Black man.
YouTube has several videos from ladies talking about their shopping experience and the size sham and size shaming at the store. One self-described "brown girl" described her experience shopping there with a lack of diversity.