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
Like many of you, I’ve long had a love/hate relationship with Forever 21. Sure, they have cute clothes at suspiciously low prices, but the stores are a nightmare, and everything falls apart the second time you wash it. I usually go a few times a year out of desperation, which almost inevitably leads to a panic attack while waiting in the checkout line. It’s super fun. But it turns out that the floor isn’t the only thing that’s messy about Forever 21. They’re now facing controversy over behavior that’s seen as fat-shaming toward their plus-sized customers.
For retailers, it’s not super uncommon to send free samples of products along with online orders. These are usually sponsored samples, so it makes sense that they’re targeted based on the typical people ordering the products. For example, when I rented my textbooks in college, they almost always came with a free can of Redbull. I appreciated it. But when you’re targeting people with products, you have to be mindful that you’re not being offensive. This is where Forever 21 made a big mistake.
Last week, people started posting photos on Twitter of their Forever 21 orders, which had come with Atkins Diet bars. I wouldn’t eat these in the first place, but to make matters worse, all of the customers who shared their photos had ordered from Forever 21’s plus-size collection. Yikes. Customers were surprised by the samples, and offended at the idea that they may have been targeted with diet products because of their size.
Hey @forever21 do you include weightloss Atkin bars in all your shipments or just in the ones for ladies over 1X ?? pic.twitter.com/ldajPJ81NM
— Katya (@wisekatya) July 22, 2019
In a statement to Glamour, Forever 21 provided the following explanation for the samples:
“From time to time, Forever 21 surprises our customers with free test products from third parties in their e-commerce orders. The freebie items in question were included in all online orders, across all sizes and categories, for a limited time and have since been removed. This was an oversight on our part and we sincerely apologize for any offense this may have caused to our customers, as this was not our intention in any way.”
Okay, so if we take this at face value, maybe Forever 21 really did send the diet bar samples to all customers, not just the plus-size ones. At least then they’re not discriminating, but it’s still pretty messed up to be pushing weight loss products on people who haven’t asked for them. We have enough problems with body image and disordered eating in our society, so no one needs a crappy clothing brand shoving weight loss products in their face.
I went from a size 24 to 18, still a plus size girl, so I ordered jeans from @Forever21 Opened the package, when I looked inside I see this Atkins bar. What are you trying to Tell me Forever 21, I’m FAT, LOSE WEIGHT? do you give these to NON-PLUS SIZE WOMEN as well? pic.twitter.com/ds8kUTs7T7
— MissGG?️? (@MissGirlGames) July 19, 2019
And that’s not even considering that the Atkins diet itself is fairly controversial, with some reports claiming that it can increase your risk for heart disease. It’s pretty troubling if Forever 21 is shilling for Atkins to their customers, plus-size or not.
It’s good to know that Forever 21 has removed the diet bars from all orders, but that’s not to say they won’t do something similar again in the future. Brands tend to have short-term memory loss when it comes to things like this (hi, Urban Outfitters), so if another problematic company offers them money to include samples, they might just go for it. Just let me buy my crappy clothes in peace, and figure out my diet issues separately—is that too much to ask?
Images: Shutterstock; wisekatya, missgirlgames / Twitter
Okay, so first let me start out by saying I am extremely lazy. The type of lazy where I won’t even bother getting off the couch to get my remote and would rather just lay there bingeing Real Housewives episodes, even though I’ve seen them all 100 times. But I’m not complaining. Also, if someone asks me to go out after I’ve already gotten home, it’s going to be a hard no from me. Because that also involves spending time picking out an outfit. So no, I think I’ll pass. The good news is, the matching sets continue to be a trend, so that’s like only having to pick one thing from your closet, so maybe I’ll consider that. When the universe is against you and you are forced to socialize, matching sets are a good option to have in your closet. So here are my three celebrity-inspired sets that I have been wearing all summer.
First off, Kylie Jenner. The new 20-year-old mom just got her pre-baby body back, and she certainly knows how to show it off. Even in the form of bathroom selfies. When she takes a picture in a bathroom it’s cool, but when I do it it’s trashy??? Life is unfair.
Kylie’s tan set was my inspiration for this bright yellow set from Topshop. I’ve worn this about five times already this summer and it hasn’t disappointed. It’s great for a vacation and even better for rooftop Saturdays. If you’re cool with looking like a sunflower, I recommend this set.
Topshop yellow hacked denim jacket; Topshop yellow denim skirt
Next, is my favorite matching set and girl, gingham and Olivia Culpo. First off, congrats to her for getting back with Danny Amendola. I’m not upset about him not being single anymore or anything, I’ll work through it.
Culpo is wearing a gingham pant and crop top set, and I found a very similar style but with a skort from Forever21. It’s perfect for the picnics your boyfriend promises he’s going to take you on but never does, so just wear this to a Sunday brunch with your friends. To complete the look, white heels or sneakers go perfectly with the outfit.
Forever 21 gingham crop cami & skort set
Lastly, my inspiration for this look was Madison Beer. Now, it’s not exactly what she is wearing, but her Clueless Cher Horowitz vibe really spoke to me.
I found this matching skirt and top at Zara which I’ve truly been living in. My co-workers probably think I got robbed and this skirt and top are all I have left. This look really is perfect for both work and post-work drinks you don’t want to go to.
Zara tweed top; Zara tweed miniskirt
Images: Olivia Culpo/ Kylie Jenner/ Bamba Swim/Instagram (3); Maya Media (3)
Some people may say I have an obsession with Olivia Culpo, and they are absolutely right. I think Olivia has an amazing personal style that is quite easy to imitate. She knows how to dress up and dress down. I’m not just obsessed with her style, I’m also mildly obsessed with needing to know if she and Danny are ever going to get back together. If not, I really hope he sees this and calls me. But I’m a fashion writer, so the purpose of this article will focus on Olivia Culpo’s style and not her love life. The latter will be for another time.
Anyway, dressing for the heat and staying trendy is a hard task, but one that Olivia always pulls off flawlessly. So let me help you out by creating three killer Olivia Culpo-inspired looks for different occasions that I hope you’ll love and be able recreate yourself—for a lot less, as always.
The first look is a ruffled black top and denim shorts. This look is perfect for a night out in heels, or sandals if you want to dress down. This look is dressy and trendy on top, but with the denim shorts in the bottom, it looks like, “Oh I just threw this together, but look how great I look!” I found this top from Boohoo. Now, be careful, because it is very low-cut, but if you like living on the edge wondering when you’re going to fall out of your top, then this is the shirt for you. And fabric tape could be your new best friend. My denim shorts are from Forever 21. Now I know this bag doesn’t look like it’s on a budget, but I stole it from my mom, so technically, it was free. I tried to copy Olivia the best I could, but of course you can wear your favorite crossbody to complete this look. The top I’m wearing was a gift and is sold out, but I found you guys an equally cool top from Boohoo with a very Olivia vibe.
From top: Boohoo rose ruffle blouse; Forever 21 distressed denim shorts
My next look is a casual Saturday look. I have the same denim shorts on from the previous look, and my crop top is also from Forever 21. Now, I know this top looks a little like a picnic tablecloth, but sometimes that style is cute? Instead of a bow in my hair like Olivia, I put on a white scrunchy because a) I didn’t have a bow, and b) I thought it made me look less like a 14-year-old girl and I already get carded at the bar so I’m really not trying to add to that.
From top: Forever 21 smocked gingham crop top; Forever 21 distressed denim shorts
My last look is for a sexy night out—maybe to attend an event or to just lock in that summer crush who finally asked me out on a date. Blazer dresses have been on trend for a while; I’ve had this in the back of my closet for years and finally got the courage to wear it. This particular one is from Nasty Gal and is a romper with shorts in the back with a skort type situation in the front. A pair of simple black pumps makes this look what I like to call “business sensual”. You can also always wear this with sneakers and be extra trendy. Either way, a blazer dress is perfect for a summer night out!
Nasty Gal Powers That Be blazer dress
Images: Olivia Culpo/ Instagram (3); Maya Media (3)
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