I just finished reading an article in The Business Insider titled “Competition Should Be Terrified Of Forever 21.” Well I’m terrified of Forever 21 and I’m not even competition. The privately-held retailer is growing like kudzu and according to analysts is becoming a major threat the the rest of the retail industry.
Forever 21’s SVP, Christopher Lee told the Los Angeles Times back in 2008 that the company’s goal was to become a “global retail conglomerate” and it sincerely looks like that is going to happen. Soon. With more than 450 U.S. stores and almost 100 locations internationally, Forever 21 is realizing sales upwards of $3.5 billion. This should worry Gap, American Eagle, Abercrombie & Fitch and any other fast-fashion and teen retailer. For one, they can produce clothing faster and cheaper than the competition. Two, it’s not only teens that shop Forever 21 (come on, you know you have bought something there).
It’s the second reason that scares the crap out of me. When I was a teen back in the middle ages, we didn’t have these dirt-cheap apparel options so I bought infrequently, but at least I bought and knew about quality. What concerns me about teens today is that they will grow up never knowing what quality clothing is which could really hurt designers in the not so distant future. I used to save up for items I really wanted. Now all a teen needs is $15 and she can buy a new pair of jeans for the weekend.
My next concern is well…I know a lot of adult women who shop at Forever 21 more than they would probably care to admit. So that means they most likely have closets full of crap. Look, I have been known to buy a trendy item or two myself at fast-fashion retailers (although I have to admit it has been a good two years or so since I have stepped into a Forever 21. Now Zara and H&M are another story.), but it’s because I don’t believe in spending a lot of money on something I only plan to wear a couple of times. Now if it’s something I will wear a lot like a gown, shoes, bag, suit or coat…I will invest in quality. I will also invest in basics I know will carry me through more than one or two seasons. I have some clothes that are upwards of 20 years old…and I still wear them because they are well made, look good, look good on me and make me feel like a million bucks when I wear them.
So please, I beg of you…instead of buying 10 low-quality items, save that money for one really good one! You will feel so much better. I promise.
– Lauren Dimet Waters