Forever 21 Went Bankrupt; What Now?

Retail store, Forever 21, on Hollywood Boulevard in Los Angeles offers 70% off select style clothing for the Valentine’s Day holiday.

Ana Moreno

Retail store, Forever 21, on Hollywood Boulevard in Los Angeles offers 70% off select style clothing for the Valentine’s Day holiday.

Ana Moreno and Sam Trejo

You only get one chance to make a good first impression. The clothes you shop for can build that foundation and retail stores play a big role.

Since 1984, Forever 21 has been a big contributor to the fashion industry, but in 2019, the multi-million dollar company filed for bankruptcy and closed over 300 stores worldwide. Formed by Do Won and Jin Sook Chang, a Korean-American business couple, their big focus was to bring new fashion styles at low production costs. It started as a 900 square foot store in Los Angeles with a majority of Korean-Americans making purchases and then expanded as a well-known retail fashion franchise. 

However, as competition grew and trends changed, Forever 21 tried too hard to remain the best. Although fast fashion is not uncommon in the industry, it was not what led to its downfall. It was the increase of lack of appeal from their targeted buyers.

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I was not really surprised when Forever 21 closed because over the years, the designs on the clothes became questionable.”

— Tammi Tran

Customers began to lose interest in Forever 21 and began shopping at other stores like H&M, Zara, and Fashion Nova. Forever 21 was also late to increase it’s online shopping platform. 

Due to its bankruptcy, Forever 21 ordered the closing of 21 California stores, laying off around 350-400 former employees. Orange County stores that have closed are: Anaheim, Irvine Spectrum Center, Fashion Island, and the Tustin Marketplace. Before closures, Forever 21 had increased discounts and sales, with items up to 70% off.

Senior, Giovanni Gutierrez, is one of those shoppers who have changed where they shop. “I’ve shopped at Forever 21 before. (But) I usually go to Nordstrom Rack. I like to buy more expensive brands too like Supreme and limited edition shoes,” said Gutierrez.

There was also the recent scandal in 2019 with Forever 21 and Ariana Grande. Ariana Grande was asked to do an ad for Forever 21. However, they did not have enough money that she demanded; Forever 21 used an Ariana Grande look alike in an ad and used a similar concept to her album. The look-alike ad inevitably led to Grande suing Forever 21.

Fashion and fashion trends change over the years and celebrities tend to heavily influence our taste and style. Currently, influencers like Bad Bunny and Billie Eilish are dominating the fashion industry. 

Sam Trejo
Freshman, Giselle Barrera, said, “I like listening to Billie Eilish because her music gets me in like an out of place mood to like to calm down. Her style does not influence me as much as her music does because I mainly focus on her music. I shop at different places for my clothes, but mainly, I shop at Hot Topic for most of my clothes.”

Puerto Rican singer, Bad Bunny, has contributed to recent trends that include painting nails for males and exaggerated clothing that stand out to the general public as “feminine.”

Billie Eilish also plays a huge role in the fashion industry, appealing to a big audience with oversized clothing and excessive jewelry with bold colors. Eilish is known for wearing clothes that range from expensive, designer brands to outfits straight from the thrift shop instead of big retailers like Forever 21. 

Ana Moreno
Senior Celso Porron checking out clothing from the men’s section. “There’s just nothing here,” says Porron after finding little to no clothing available for males at Forever 21.

Now, shoppers are heading in a different direction when they buy their clothing. Tastes vary from shopping online to retail stores. Online, Fashion Nova has taken the lead in selling as well as H&M, Hollister, and Abercrombie & Fitch. Also, some people choose to shop at more expensive places such as Supreme and Sneakers on apps while other shoppers choose thrift stores where cheap prices can be found. 

In early February, Forever 21 was sold by Won and Chang for $81 million to Simon Property Group, Brookfield Property Partners and Authentic Brands. With the selling, its side brands are also being handed over to the new buyers.

Forever 21 is a known brand, where only time will tell how it rebrands itself under new ownership and if it plans to stay open, forever.