Forever 21 Bankruptcy – What Factors Come Into Play and How Shoppers are Affected

Eva, Staff Writer

Forever 21 is a fast fashion brand that operates around 800 stores worldwide, which has recently filed for bankruptcy. They announced that they are closing up to 350 stores globally. 

The store is seen as slightly controversial because they are a fast fashion store that creates trendy clothes that are known to be low-quality. While Forever 21 is somewhat affordable, they lack the sustainability that some people look for. This generation has become more environmentally conscious, so many shoppers are looking for sustainability and even quality that Forever 21 does not offer. Their clothing also sometimes has strange designs that aren’t appealing to everyone. These are the main reasons some people stray away from the store.

Why Shop at Forever 21?

Ember Sandler, a junior and a frequent Forever 21 shopper, was asked why she shops at Forever 21 and what draws her in. Her response was, “I like the smells, the loud music, and the dim lights. Forever 21 draws people in by their loud music, dim lights, and smells because it’s all super welcoming and people like it. It’s like a party atmosphere, so they come in, get the good vibes, and leave.” When Ember was asked if there’s other stores she prefers she said, “I like Target, TJ Maxx, Gabe’s.” And she also stated, “Target definitely has sturdier clothes, but Forever 21 is still really cute.” 

Abby McClaskey, a junior who sometimes shops at Forever 21, was also asked why she shops at Forever 21. “I originally started shopping there because it was cheaper and trendier clothes, sort of like the fast fashion idea. But I think I’ve stopped shopping there as frequently, as it’s become more expensive,” she responded. In response to being asked what draws her into the store, she says, “Probably just the trendiness of the store, and the marketing is really good, it’s always on all my social media.” When asked if she prefers another brand to Forever 21, Abby said, “Probably American Eagle if it wasn’t as expensive,” because she prefers the quality. 

Quality, Design, and Cost

The clothes at Forever 21 are not known to have the greatest quality. And in recent times, people are looking for more sustainable clothing items that are also affordable, such as those from thrift stores. Ember and Abby we’re interviewed about the topic of quality and how they feel about it. When Ember was asked about the quality of the clothes at Forever 21, she responded, “It definitely annoys me when I buy a $25 shirt and it rips in like 3 months.” Abby was asked if she liked the quality of the clothes at Forever 21, and she responded, “Most of the time I think you get what you pay for, so yeah, decently.” Abby was next asked whether she would like the quality of their clothing to improve. “I think it would raise the price, and that I don’t really want to happen, so I’m okay with where they’re at now. But it would always be nice if there were a few things that they made a little bit better,” is what she answered.

Some of the clothes at Forever 21 are not appealing to everyone, such as the Cheetos clothing line, that has mixed reviews. Some say clothes such as that are the reason Forever 21 is going bankrupt, and others actually like to wear outgoing clothes. Ember was asked if the clothes at Forever 21 are her style, and her response was, “I love the jeans, and some of the shirts are a little out there, but some of them are cute. Some of the stuff is really out there. My friends would tell me it would look cute on me, but I would be like no it wouldn’t.” Abby was also asked if she felt the clothes at Forever 21 were her style. “I think they have a very wide range of styles there. But yeah, there’s definitely something for everyone there and there’s definitely something for me there too.” Abby’s opinion on some of the shirts with strange phrases is, “That’s not necessary, I don’t like that. But the normal graphic tees that don’t have weird stuff like ‘It’s Taco Tuesday’ written on them, yes I will wear. The normal ones I will wear, but the other ones I won’t.”

Shopping Experience

Not only does their clothing lack the best quality, but their stores sometimes lack a good shopping experience. The Forever 21 stores are sometimes disorganized and messy, so many customers may prefer to shop online because it’s easier to find what they’re looking for. They have more products online that cannot always be found in stores, along with free returns. And instead of returns in stores, which give you back store credit, they give you a full refund.

When asked if she found the in-store experienced organized or messy, Ember responded, “Definitely messy. They change everything all the time, so if I’m not in the mood to look around there forever, I will just ask them what I’m looking for.” Abby responded to the same question with, “I think it depends on which store you go to. Some of them I think are very organized, and then others I think are a total mess. Like the one at the King of Prussia Mall, there’s one floor that’s kept well and the other floor is a total mess.”

Many people prefer online shopping to in-store shopping because they get a better deal because many online sites offer discount codes and sales. Plus, people do not have to leave the comfort of their own home. But you never really know what something is like, unless you see it in person. There’s certain qualities that are left unknown when you shop online, such as quality, comfort, and fit. 

“I like shopping in-store better. I like online shopping personally, but it makes people very inhuman, like we’re very computerized. I feel like most people like their iPhones more than they like their parents,” Ember said, in response to being asked if she prefers shopping in-store or online. When asked if she prefers shopping at Forever 21 in-store or online, Abby responded with, “In store, definitely. Because online for some of the clothing you don’t really know the quality, it can either be really bad or decent, and the sizing kind of runs weird.” Abby was then asked if she felt online shopping was good or bad. “I think it’s good for some people, because I know that sometimes I don’t like to try on clothes in-store because of self-confidence reasons. It’s also bad because you don’t know what you’re getting all the time so you have to send things back and it becomes a lengthy process,” she answered.

Ember had something else to say that was not one of the asked questions. “The one thing that I absolutely hate about Forever 21 is that I feel that for me to continue shopping there, I have to keep myself at a size 4 because that is the most readily available size. Forever 21 makes it very evident that size 4 is the, quote on quote, perfect fit for Americans. I am a completely average person besides the fact I have big b**bs. And that’s another thing, they don’t carry my size and most of the time I have to order it.”

Opinions on Bankruptcy

Ember was asked how she feels about the Forever 21 bankruptcy. “I think they’re not actually going bankrupt, they did it to themselves on purpose, and they will obviously bounce back after a few years. When asked the same question, Abby replied, “I’m not gonna lie, I don’t know much about it. All I know is that they keep having sales, so I’m cool with it because I’m gonna keep getting cheap clothes. But after that, I’m not gonna be happy because that means I’m gonna have to shop at American Eagle more, and I’m gonna spend more money, which means I’m gonna need to work more.”

Overall, the main problem people seem to have with Forever 21 is the quality of the clothing, and some of the designs themselves. Even because of these issues, shoppers still return, having a decently pleasant experience. Hopefully Forever 21 can fix some of the common concerns, but not change what allows many people to shop there, the price.