While I was in highschool Forever 21 was just about to open in Canada. I had only heard about it from my aunt who lived in New York. Of course, sixteen-year-old was curious and had to check out the online store. I loved what I was seeing and couldn’t wait to go shopping at the store. Forever 21 became the place you would go if you needed something last minute, it was a good place for basics, and had great accessories. It was affordable yet trendy clothing but the quality of the products was much better in the beginning than now. All the clothes started to look the same after a while.
Despite their lack of authenticity, I think everyone has that one item in their closet that they adore that’s from Forever 21. I’ve had many moments where I’ve given someone a compliment on their outfit and they respond by saying, “Thanks. It’s from Forever 21.” Even at 23, I still feel joy looking around the store. So, when I found out Forever 21 was closing down I was devasted.
In September, Forever 21 announced bankruptcy and that it was closing down all 44 stores in Canada and 168 of 584 stores in the United States. Overall the company will be closing down 350 stores internationally. I wasn’t expecting them to close down I thought they were doing well because I know so many people that love shopping there. I knew that Forever 21 was inexpensive and convenient but I didn’t realize how they got to be that way.
Forever 21 was founded by Do Won and Sin Jin Sook Chang after they immigrated from South Korea to California. In the 80s the company was called Fashion 21 and later became Forever 21. The company may have been successful for their low prices at a time where online shopping wasn’t as popular as it is now. However, in 2017, The Los Angeles Times reported that they were able to sell their clothes at such low prices because their employees worked in an unethical environment. In addition, the company faced many knockoff lawsuits as their clothes resembled a little too much like pieces from designer brands.
Forever 21 wasn’t the only retail company that’s filed for bankruptcy. Another famous fast-fashion store that is closing down is Topshop. Topshop is closing down all of their 11 locations in the U.S after British parent-company Arcadia Group filed for bankruptcy in the U.S. The Topshop and Topman shops located in The Bay will not be closing down. Sir Philip Green chairman of the Arcadia group will also be closing down a few Topshop and Topman stores in the UK.
Other stores in Canada that filed for bankruptcy are Town Shoes, Payless, and Jean Machine. Nine West filed for bankruptcy in 2018 and closed all stores in the U.S and Canada. You can still find their shoes at The Bay, Designer Shoe Warehouse, and can order from their website. Diesel Jeans filed for bankruptcy in March 2019 and they plan on restructuring their company dynamics to become a profitable brand again.
Although they’re more customers nowadays who are educated on the environmental impact buying fast fashion has. More customers are putting more thought into their purchases and want their money to be well spent. However, “in an interview with The New York Times, Linda Chang, Forever 21’s executive vice president and the daughter of founders Do Won and Jin Sook Chang, said that a large part of the company’s clientele are minorities and that customer studies suggest that many of Forever 21 shoppers are between the ages of 25 and 40.”
There will always be a customer base for fast fashion stores. Some can’t afford to buy more quality items and may not care for secondhand shopping. As for me, I’ll be shopping online on sites like Asos and Lulus. If I’m ever in the states and stumble upon Forever 21 it’s definitely going to be a nostalgic moment for me.