There is no place we’d rather be than Forever21, the American answer to the European fast fashion emporia such as H&M, Zara and Primark.
Interns (who descend on NY in the summer), tourists and the fashion savvies all agree, if you need a fashion fix or cheap chic forget about watching the latest episode of Gossip Girl or Sex and The City. Instead, head for Forever21 and cram as many trends as you can into their bright yellow carrier bags.
The store on 34th Street, just a short walk from Macy’s, may have the appeal of a jumble sale with the occasional garment or bargain hunter trampled underfoot, but head down to Union Square and the Forever21 store is a different experience. Still in tune with the owners’ vision that shopping should be a little bit of a treasure hunt, visual merchandising do seem to have prevailed and on a good day the store looks like the love child of H&M and Urban Outfitters.
New merchandise arrives in store every day. Forever21 prides themselves on offering their trend driven customers with catwalk interpretations in less than six weeks. Okay, so this has sometimes landed them in hot water. Diane von Furstenberg, Anna Sui and Gwen Stefani and her Harajuku’s Lovers have all filed lawsuits against the company, but where else can you find the must have styles in sunglasses for less than $7, dresses $25 and denims $20?
Love it, then buy it, is their aim. A typical store rolls over 20 percent of its stock in any given week and don’t expect to see second deliveries of best performing styles. In Forever21 new trends appear as fast as celebrity babies do. Alternative looks are provided by the sub brands Heritage 1981 - a casual t-shirt and denim look for men and women, all priced below $30, and Twelve by Twelve - the unique, higher quality items that will make you stand out in a crowd.
Forever21 is not just about the latest fashion trends. The new range of t-shirts encourages shoppers to make a difference i.e. “Vote. Try it, you’ll like it” and “Melt hearts, not icecaps”. But what the majority of fashion followers don’t know is that they are spreading the word in more ways than one when handed the famous yellow carrier bag. Printed on the bottom are the words John 3:16, a reflection of the owners’ Christian faith.
Daily prayers or fashion acumen, Forever21 has become a retail powerhouse with more than 400 stores, $1 billion plus revenue and a customer base that is not feeling the actual or the economic heat.