Uniqlo China bans adults from trying on kids' clothes for 'BM Style' trend

How the global influence of one-size-fits-all Italian label Brandy Melville has led to children's clothes being trashed in China.

by Briony Wright
16 March 2021, 7:44pm

When Silvio Marsan launched his women’s label Brandy Melville in Italy in the early 80s, it’s unlikely he could have imagined the magnitude of its eventual popularity. Since opening their first American store in 2009, selling their distinctively tiny, ‘one-size-fits-all’, preppy basics to a wider market, Brandy Melville has become a favourite for young girls (and some older women) who aspire to the very-thin and typically very-white image the brand has fostered.

Interestingly, the appeal of Brandy Melville transcends borders and bank accounts. Frequently worn by fashion kids to whom money is no object, like Lily-Rose Depp and Kia Gerber, with most pieces priced well under $100, the appeal to young, body-conscious buyers is understandable. And it’s not just America where Brandi Melville, with its 3.6 million Instagram followers, is popular. The brand also has physical and digital shops through Europe, Australia and now Asia, as well as a strong presence on resale sites like Depop where discontinued items can sell for four times their original price.

With social media and selfie-culture at the centre of Brandy Melville’s rise, ‘BM Style’ (Brandy Melville Style) has taken off as a popular tag on platforms like Weibo as a generic signifier for the arguably problematic style. In a curious turn, the tag has most recently appeared alongside images of adults wearing children’s clothing in Uniqlo changing rooms in China. According to China Marketing Insights magazine, on Xiaohongshu—a popular Chinese women’s social media platform—there are “over 140,000 posts about ‘BM style’, with tips on how to put together a BM style outfit….and over 5,000 posts about creating BM outfits with Uniqlo clothing.”

The promotion of unattainable body shapes aside, another unwanted ramification being reported as a result of the trend, is the unnecessary destruction of Uniqlo’s kid’s clothes. With grown people trying on undersized pieces for changing-room selfies, Uniqlo staff in China have reported multiple cases of clothing being left unsellable, stretched and stained with makeup.

According to Red Star News, an employee at a Uniqlo store in Chengdu told reporters, “I saw a woman 170cm tall go to the fitting room with a t-shirt made for children up to 120cm. The result is the t-shirt has been stretched too much and we can only deal with it as waste.”

In response, some Uniqlo stores have banned adults from trying on children’s clothing, while others have simply appealed to their customer’s decency. More widely, on Xiaohongshu, under the search term, ‘Uniqlo kids clothing’, there’s now a banner at the top of the page asking people to be respectful and choose the correct size when trying out products at the store.