“Have you ever heard of Brandy Melville?” my fiancée recently asked while browsing through online clothing shops. “It’s a women’s clothing store. I just found out they sell olive oil.”
That didn’t sound right, but I took a look at the link, and sure enough, this popular retailer specializing in women’s apparel has a curious link in its homepage navigation bar simply labeled “olive oil.”
Seems like a first, right? It’s not like Abercrombie & Fitch has ever hawked balsamic vinegar, as far as I’m aware. The only brick-and-mortar store I can think of that sets specialty foods and fast-fashion clothing this close together is Marshall’s.
My fiancée hasn’t been the only one to notice this strange inclusion on the Brandy Melville website. The Cut wrote about this mysterious olive oil after senior staff writer Emilia Petrarca saw a user post about it on (where else?) TikTok. The bottles sell for $25, a steeper price than the good stuff at most grocery stores.
“Turns out, it’s pretty tasty,” Petrarca wrote, “but just to be sure, I compared it to the nicer olive oil I have and found it to be… exactly the same.”
Brandy Melville isn’t actually the name of the person who founded the company. That would be a man named Silvio Marsan, who created the label in the early 1980s—and who owns a farm in the Lazio region north of Rome, where the San Bartolomeo Family Farm Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil is produced.
Aside from the slight weirdness of using the clothing brand to peddle olive oil, the company has been plagued with many other controversies. For starters, Brandy Melville only sells to one size—small—which has cultivated an exclusionary atmosphere, even as other companies work to expand their range of sizes and offerings to be more inclusive. (The company claims this is a strategy to reduce manufacturing costs.)
Business Insider also reported last year on the alleged racist and discriminatory hiring practices at Brandy Melville, with sources claiming that physical appearance was prized above skill and management exhibited abusive and predatory behavior toward employees. (Fair warning to anyone who reads the expose: You know things are bad when Hitler’s name is invoked.)
Knowing all this, you’re probably better off picking up your olive oil at the grocery store like everyone else. Besides, oil is almost impossible to get out of clothing, so adding a bottle to your shipment of ribbed crop tops seems like a recipe for disaster.