The Italian clothing company Brandy Melville is the next hot brand in teen retail.
The company, which sells a wide array of tiny crop tops, high-waisted bottoms, and slouchy sweaters, didn’t exist in the US until five years ago.
It still has a small store presence in the country — just 18 stores total — but thanks to a robust e-commerce business, it’s now ranked No. 1 among brands that teen girls in the US say they are starting to wear, according to Piper Jaffray’s most recent survey on teen spending. The company wasn’t even ranked among the top 10 up-and-coming brands in previous surveys.
Brandy Melville’s recent rise has been helped by its popular Instagram account, which has more than two million followers and mainly features the same group of ultra-skinny, long-haired white girls posing in the brand’s clothes.
Some of the girls appear to be professional models. Others are part of Brandy Melville’s teen focus group, many of whom have become famous on the internet as a result of their exposure to the brand’s followers, reports Racked.
“Product research is made up of all teenage girls,” Kjerstin Skorge, a 16-year-old from Malibu, told Racked’s Julia Rubin. The team consists of about 20 girls who are paid to research and select new styles.
“It’s fun because we just come up with cool things that we like and then put them on a T-shirt,” she told Rubin. “For the Instagram, the marketing team will send us out with clothes and have us take pictures with a photographer and then they will decide what to post.”
Kjerstin now has more than 45,000 Instagram followers, up from 3,000 before she started working for Brandy Melville. Girls sometimes come into the Santa Monica store and ask to take pictures with her, she said.
Another Brandy Melville employee, Alex Centomo (pictured below), now has more than 338,000 Instagram followers as a result of her work with the brand.