Forever 21: Our Favorite Fashion Retailer Is Bankrupt

By Noelle Ottinger··  3 min read
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The iconic fashion retailer for teens and young adults now faces bankruptcy and serious down-sizing. What does the future hold in store for our beloved Forever 21?

What made Forever 21 successful? Forever 21 has been around since before many of us were born, and it’s been our favorite go-to fashion shop for the trendiest clothes and accessories. Teens and young adults alike flock to the racks of flowy dresses and are drawn to the grunge over-sized sweaters. There are styles to fit practically any mood and budget.

The Beginning

With the prototype of Forever 21, “Fashion 21,” opening its doors in 1984 in Los Angeles, couple Jin Sook and Do Won “Don” Chang had hopes of opening a clothing retailer that was both affordable and on par with current fashion trends. “Fashion 21” was a hit, with revenue rising to $700,000 within the first year. This spark in success encouraged the couple to open more stores across California, and eventually, the name was changed to Forever 21 in 1989.

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In 2003, Forever 21 opened its online store, which further increased its success. The company reached its climax in 2015, with a combined net worth of $5.9 billion.

Desperate Times Call for Desperate Measures

However, with any business, there's always competition, and Forever 21 is no different. In 2000, H&M began attracting the young crowd as a well-matched competitor with its edgy, yet approachable style drawing in the masses and is now reporting a 10% increase in net sales.

As the fashion game grew dimmer for Forever 21, it began to downsize in 2018 in the European market and North America, and on Sunday evening, the company announced its decision to file for bankruptcy. The company representatives disclosed there are plans to close most store locations in Asia and Europe but will continue to operate in the U.S., Mexico, and Latin America. It's reported that Forever 21 is now in talks with refinancing its business with private-equity firm Apollo Global Management.

Fast fashion retailers like H&M and Zara have continued to try to align their values with the current generation by being "ethical players that are building sustainability into their business model, while still maintaining their chief value drivers." Whereas Forever 21 has stayed, well, Forever 21. Other new popular businesses are ethical clothing companies such as Reformation and Rent The Runway. With the amount of pollution from fast fashion, environmentally conscious Generation Z is looking for more sustainable clothing. Or at the very least, quality that will last longer than a few months.

Closing Thoughts

It's uncertain whether Forever 21 will be around forever (sorry, had to), but it's here for now, and its online store still remains. Many of us will continue to cherish scouring the racks in hopes of finding that impulse buy that's fashionable but won't break our bank account.

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