Forever 21 History Case Study- The Rise & Fall 

Forever 21 was once a hotspot for teens. They were the authority on fashion and the go-to retailer for the latest trends, styles, and the hottest deals. It is a privately owned company. However, the closure of its stores in London and China suggested that the company hit a rough patch. It was further evident when the company filed for bankruptcy in 2019.

Nonetheless, before the company started facing struggles, it was pretty unstoppable. The company was the hottest place for you to get your on-trend clothes. It was the king of fast fashion and seemed to be in every store. This article explores Fashion 21 history for insight into the company’s rise to prominence. Over the years, we also reviewed some of the brand’s challenges and the marketing strategies that helped Forever 21 stay ahead of the competition and remain strong despite the challenges.

Forever 21 History – How It Started

Forever 21 was founded by a husband and wife team Jin Sook and Do Won Don, in 1984. Three years after moving from South Korea to Los Angeles, the couple founded the company. Don noted that people driving nice cars were interested in the clothing industry and decided to explore it himself. So the couple opened their first store called Fashion 21 in the Highland Park neighborhood of Los Angeles. It was a 900 square foot space. Fashion 21 made over $700,000 in sales within the first year of business. In fact, this was due to Jin Sook’s knack for spotting trends you could easily copy. Her skills gave them an edge in the competitive fashion industry.

Fashion 21 offered shoppers a series of inexpensive clothing produced by Korean American manufacturers. Jin Sook chose every item in the store, and Merchandise turned over quickly. The hottest, trendiest, and newest outfits were always at the front of the store to attract buyers in. Industry Analytics estimated that Fashion 21 turned over 20% of its stock every passing week. That was twice the rate of other clothing brands.

The Wind of Change

After the first company turned out successfully, the Changs decided to change the store’s name to Forever 21. They opened new stores each month, first in Panorama City, California. The company opened another store in Miami in 1995 and began to seek international waters. The company’s first international store was in Canada and opened in 2001. Within a decade, Forever 21 was already a dominant company in the fashion industry as it had 500 stores across the US. The Changs were the 79th wealthiest Americans, and their business continued to thrive. This fashion brand made a name for itself as the ideal spot for trendy clothes at affordable prices.

In 2015, the company had made $4.4 billion in sales and had over 600 stores. The Changs had a net worth of $5.9 billion. The fashion brand made a name for itself by always providing new inventory for buyers at low prices. 

Forever 21 Brand Construction

The Forever 21 brand offers eight sub-brands that are broken up. However, in Forever 21 history, these sub-brands were housed in the same oversized Forever 21 stores. Below are the sub-brands from Forever 21 you should know.

  • XXI Forever: This sub-brand is found in the largest flagship store and contains all the smaller labels you can find under Forever 21 brand.
  • Forever 21 Girls: This sub-brand features a transformation of the original XXI Forever brand. This sub-brand is more suited to the pre-teen audience. Throughout Forever 21 history, it has always focused on popular designs and adapted to the emerging pre-teen market.
  • Love21 Contemporary: This is a contemporary line under Forever 21 that offers the same price as the other brands. Its target audience is over 21, and its focus is staying up to trend on all the latest fashion styles and pieces.
  • Forever 21+: Since its creation in Forever 21 history, the Forever21+ brand has focused on plus-sized women. It allows curvy women to wear the same clothes as the rest of the brand’s shoppers. It also offers a great price point for shoppers.
  • 21Menanother sub-brand of Forever 21 is the 21Men. This sub-brand focuses on designing and tailoring outfits for men in their mid-20s. These designs follow the female models in the other stores as they must remain up-to-date with new mail fashion trends.
  • Forever 21 Red: Forever 21 history shows the launching of this brand in 2015. It caters to price-conscious shoppers. Forever 21 features several clothing groups which are ideal for men and children.
  • Riley Ross: This sub-brand was managed by the founder’s daughters, Esther and Linda Change. It is a sub-brand that covers the beauty and home item sectors. The brand focuses on millennials and Gen Z consumers. 

Forever 21 Challenges

Although Forever 21 grew exponentially, the brand faced challenges during the growth process, which they learned from. Some of these include:

Brand Transitioning Power

Forever 21 history shows that Jin Sook and Do Won Don created the brand. It remains a privately held and family-owned company. Although Chang’s daughters will eventually take control of the company, there will be changes in how the company operates. While transitioning to new and younger leadership, it is essential that the brand that the Changs fought to build be remembered.


Forever 21 continually reviews its pricing to provide consumers with a competitive price. As the fashion landscape shifts from runway to wearable, other brands are exploring the Forever 21 dominated market. As the brands continue to grow, focusing on location and overall development is essential. When the company achieves a customer reach better than its competitors, it will be able to combat this challenge head-on.

Dilution of Product Quality

As a brand whose utmost quality is its low price point, there’s a need for the brand to keep offering competitive prices. However, to save money at different stages of production, the quality of Forever 21’s clothes tends to reduce drastically. Additionally, customers are becoming more discerning and expectant of better qualities. Therefore, there’s a need for Forever 21 to find a balance between their pricing and the quality of their pricing.

Since Forever 21’s price point and production model are some of the factors that set the brand apart from competitors, a solution would be a subtle shift in its brand identity. Additionally, the brand can begin to focus on originality and authenticity.

Forever 21 Growth Strategy

You can find a Forever 21 store in almost every continent and country. The Forever 21 brand continues to grow despite the challenges it faced over the years. Their ability to maintain a brand that covers different styles is one of the lessons to learn from Forever 21 history.

Use of Mobile and Online Technology

Forever 21 launched its shopping site quite early after noticing an increase in the e-commerce trend. It was at a time when the internet was viewing. A large percentage of Forever 21 sales comes from the website because it allows them to seamlessly reach customers on every side of the world. In the brand’s mobile application, you can make purchases and rank their clothing. Since its creation in Forever 21 history, the rating tool on the mobile application has helped the design team understand customers’ tastes and preferences better. It also reduces the funds spent on mass item production when the target customer might not favor it. With this strategy, Forever 21 reaped twice the benefit and enjoyed an increase in the marketing speed.

Forever 21 Product Strategy

Forever 21 history shows that the brand has been around for quite a while. The brand offers a wide range of clothing for men and women in different categories. The brand covers kids to adults; therefore, you’re sure to find clothing that fits perfectly for your preference. Apart from clothing, Forever 21 also sells accessories, including gloves, ties, watches, brooches, and many more items. Forever 21 also ventured into the footwear brand and offered wedges, sandals booths, etc.

Target Marketing Strategy

Forever 21’s target is women of different ages. Throughout Forever 21 history, the brand’s design allows it to satisfy the fashion sense of women and their varying styles from adults to teenagers. As a result, forever 21 also made the list of the top 1000 internet retailers for teens and young adults. In addition, the brand carried out research showing that 45% of its online customers are millennial women.

Forever 21 Pricing Strategy

The brand is quite famous for its strategic pricing. It is continually offering pricing deals that meet the demands of the product. With affordable clothing at all points and discount deals customers can take advantage of, Forever 21 can keep customers satisfied while expanding to new stores.

Forever 21 Distribution Strategy

Forever 21 history shows that the brand started in Los Angeles. However, the brand continues to spread across Europe, America, Africa, and many more. Today, the brand owns over 600 stores and intends to reach countries like Australia, Brazil, the United Kingdom, etc. The brand’s strategic distribution planning allowed the brand to keep expanding over the years. Additionally, the brand also has a vast networking channel. This allows for easy distribution of its products and services to consumers.

Forever 21 Promotional Strategy

Forever 21 promotional strategy is how the brand successfully reaches its target audience when it comes to promotion. It carries a solid social media presence where it advertises its products. Additionally, these social media platforms facilitate better customer service and relations. The brand’s promotional strategies capitalize on its market share. From the number of Instagram, website, and Facebook followers these brands have, It’s clear that their promotional strategy using social media is quite effective.

The Value of Fashion Brands
The Value of Fashion Brands

Forever 21 History – Conclusion

Forever 21’s popularity continues to grow due to its many offerings. But, like its owners, Forever 21 history shows that the brand evolved from a single standpoint and remains one of the most prominent fashion retail brands. Over the years, the brand has successfully overtaken some of its competition while offering products at a low price point. This article sheds light on some of Forever 21’s challenges and the marketing strategy used by the brand to build its customer base.

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Forever 21 History Case Study- The Rise & Fall  Forever 21 history is one of the fall and rise of one of the top teen fashion brands. Keep reading to learn more about this unstoppable brand.
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