Clothing companies have always been forced to adapt to follow the newest fashion fads and styles. Along with the introduction of technology, and the new exposure to an even more vast market, the fashion industry has become more fast paced than ever.
As some companies such as Zara have thrived under this new found pressure of an ever evolving marketplace, other companies have fallen behind, failing to adjust to consumer demands.
Starting in 1981, Forever 21 really took off as a retail competitor by 2008. The affordable, cheap and trending clothing proved to have its place in the teenage consumer world.
“I think that kids really like the freedom that came with being able to afford popular and, at the time, in-style clothing,” junior Sydney Logan said.
Forever 21, however, has now has filed for bankruptcy, closing over 178 stores and more stores in Asia and Europe. The cause of this sudden decline in business has been thought to be caused by social and economic changes in the marketplace.
“You really need to look and adapt and continue to grow with their market,” business teacher Karen Roberts said. “I think when you have stores like that, you either really have to look at your competition and make changes or you have to grow with your market and continue to move with them, because they are going to be their loyal customers that keep coming back.”
As the demand for more sustainable clothing has risen, companies that rely on “fast fashion,” mass production of catwalk trends, have seen a decrease in sales. Companies such as H&M and GAP, have also similarly failed to match consumer demand.
“I think Forever 21 is pretty well known for being cheap,” Logan said. “I don’t like shopping there because I know the clothes won’t last and even the low prices are not worth it because of that.”
Forever 21’s lack of success has also been attributed to their lack of e-commerce and inability to adapt to the increasing importance of the internet in the fashion business. Although Forever 21 has taken a major hit this year, the franchise has remained a power retail competitor. While the retail store hasn’t managed to find success online it has managed to become an international company, with over 251 stores outside of America.
“As a Japanese store, it’s is a pretty big deal,” freshman Towa Wakabayashi said. “I would describe the clothing as happy and easy to wear.”
While Forever 21 has failed to make its mark on internet commerce and lost its appeal to many teenagers, the retailer is looking at reconstruction optimistically as a chance to become a competitor in the fashion world once again, including their collaboration with the Cheetos brand.
“Maybe they needed to find more of a digital presence,” Roberts said. “Your typical brick and mortar is struggling a little bit, and when you find ways to change with the times in the digital arena maybe they needed to find more of a digital presence.”
While the future of Forever 21 is unclear for now, it does expose a future dominated by online shopping that will bring the opportunity of development and growth for some retailers and the end for those retailers unable to adjust.
“I want them to do better,” Wakabayashi said. “I really hope that they will be able to change up their clothes to match what people want.”