If you’re in your mid-to-late-twenties now, Forever 21 probably conjures memories of middle and high school. If Tori’s parents were going out of town and you were gonna get wasted in her basement, Forever 21 was the perfect place to find a cheap outfit that you could wear exactly once before it fell apart. Well, our shopping habits have changed since then, and Forever 21 hasn’t been able to keep up. Now, they’re looking at a potential bankruptcy filing that could lead to hundreds of stores shutting down.
When Forever 21 and other fast fashion retailers first became popular in the 90s and 2000s, it was in response to dissatisfaction with traditional department stores. These new stores focused on creating inexpensive, on-trend clothing, usually sacrificing quality as a result. But while disposable, cute clothes were what everyone wanted in high school, most of us are now willing to pay a bit more for good quality. Forever 21 is still dirt cheap, but they’ve fallen behind in terms of trends and quality.
Last year, I went to Forever 21 for the first time in years, and I was pretty unimpressed by what I saw. The store was massive, but still somehow felt almost empty. Clothes were piled haphazardly on tables, and it was hard to find more than one size of anything. There was hardly a sales associate in sight, and the fitting rooms looked like they hadn’t been cleaned in months. (Okay, so maybe it’s always been like that.) And while Forever 21 has stayed exactly the same, other brands have made specific changes to keep up with the times.
sounds like Forever 21 is falling apart, they must've put themselves through the washing machine more than two times
— Betches (@betchesluvthis) September 3, 2019
In recent years, big retailers like Target and Walmart have upped their game in the affordable fashion department, and people across the country can buy cute clothes and accessories there without having to deal with the mall. Additionally, stores like Zara are more on-point with the trends for a slightly higher price. And while other stores have been proactive about shutting down underperforming locations and consolidating their efforts, Forever 21 hasn’t really wavered from their model of having a giant store in basically every mall. It just doesn’t make sense in 2019, especially with the rise of online shopping.
According to a new Bloomberg report, Forever 21 is likely preparing to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, which would allow them to restructure their debts without shutting down completely. Either way, it seems likely that many of Forever 21’s 500+ US locations could close or downsize in the coming months.
To add insult to injury, the bankruptcy rumors come at the same time that the store was sued by Ariana Grande for allegedly hiring a lookalike model for one of their ad campaigns. I don’t know what money Ariana thinks they have, but it’s not a great look for Forever 21.
These financial problems aren’t the only time Forever 21 has been in the news for negative reasons recently. Back in July, they got called out for including diet bars in many of their online orders, including ones that were sent to plus-size customers. While they claim this was more of an oversight than any targeted weight loss marketing, it definitely wasn’t the type of publicity that Forever 21 needs right now.
Even though I haven’t been a regular shopper at Forever 21 for years, because I’m over the age of 21, it will still feel like the end of an era if they actually go out of business. Pour one out for all the sweaters that were see-through after being washed once, and shoes that literally broke while you were wearing them. Thanks for the memories!
Images: Shutterstock; betchesluvthis / Twitter; Forever 21 / Facebook