Temporary 21 may be a more befitting name for the aforementioned fast fashion house. Forever 21, like to me and to most, has been a major game changer for those who have big wardrobe aspirations and small wallets. Unfortunately, the brand has exhausted its' resources and some of its creativity ultimately leading to the major downfall that we will be discussing below.
Yesterday, after picking up an order (pro tip: they offer free shipping if you order any product to your nearest location), I went online to see if they had a wider selection via their website, and there it was. Before the usual ads for deals of the day, and "this just in fall fashion", there laid a large disclaimer explaining F21's official file for bankruptcy, and several closures of their flagship stores across America.
Forever 21, believe it or not, has been around for over three decades. With the original name "Fashion 21" it was founded in 1984 by Southern Korean couple Do Won and Jin Sook Chang. The demographic for the brand has always been young women with a passion for fashion at reasonable prices. It was not until recent years that the brand made its' mark as a powerhouse in the industry.
Affecting everyday and high fashion manufacturers across the board with its' nearly impossible to beat price points, unique, yet familiar designs, and ability to change just as quickly as the fickleness of the fashion industry, F21 has always been thought to forever remain the staple in the industry it was built to be. However, much like the old saying goes, "All great things must come to an end."
And how did this shocking end come about you may ask, in a few words: over expansion. Like many great businesses before, Forever 21 started with a humble beginning of one store and big aspirations. As time sped by and the demand began to grow, it was met with the misguided eagerness of its' execs to give the customers what they craved, and the ultimate serving resulted in 800 stores across America.
Whilst this may have resulted in large revenue, F21 has earned over nine billion dollars in sales withn the past three years alone, this was not the upward trend that it fooled us all into believing. It was a bubble soon to burst. The constant come and go of inventory combined with the square footage of these stores has simply left F21 with too much supply, and no longer enough demand. Customers are steadily beginning to seek their clothing elsewhere and becoming more cognizant of the environmental effects of fast fashion, which has, over time, led to rapidly declining sales.
in addition to its' physical over expansion, its' changing demographic is just as much of a qualifying factor for F21's demise. What started as a haven for teenage and twenty something young women everywhere eventually became an undecided mayhem of customers F21 desired to reach.
They began to dabble in business, athletic, and menswear. These additions, a seemingly positive marketing strategy, ultimately was a distraction to F21's key demographic,and it shows in the lack of design and quality that we have seen in recent months.
So what exactly does this mean for the fashion industry? It means a wake up call, to both the consumers and CEOs. Fast fashion has never been and can never be sustainable for both parties and F21 is an unfortunate living example. I believe moving forward we will see consumers becoming more conscious about where how they spend their money on clothing.
Shopping with intention is slowly but surely becoming more alluring than shopping for deals. And for businesses, my prediction is that they will not take Forever 21 as a chance occurrence and tread more lightly than they have been. If not careful, any business could be the next F21.
Princess-Zenita is a writer, student, reader, traveler, and all around life enthusiast. When she's not writing for DDS, she also runs her own blog "The Princess is Pauping."