You may most likely of been strolling through the mall and have passed a Forever 21 store and or even went in to go shopping more than once in your life. Would you ever think that this company started by selling clothing based on the style in South Korea? Or that this famous clothing retail chain all started in only a 900-square-foot building?
Married couple, Do Won Chang and Jin Sook Chang are the two founders and former owners of the popular retail store, Forever 21, and the reason it is so popular today. The couple relocated from South Korea to California in 1981.
In 1984 the Chang's bought a small building in Highland Park, Los Angeles with only 11,000 in their savings account and started their first clothing store. The store went by the name Fashion 21 at the time.
Their store ended up being a huge success, giving them the opportunity to expand to other locations.
Forever 21 has over 500 store locations in the US, they have stores in 43 different states.
There are 3 states that have the most stores available. California has 68, New York has 31, and Texas has 36 store locations.
Forever 21 does not only have stores in the United States but also has had locations in other countries around the world such as Japan, Korea, Canada, Europe, and the Philippines.
Many stores in other countries have been shut down since 2019, including 178 in the US.
When 2020 came along the Changs had no other choice but to file for chapter 11 bankruptcy, shut down hundreds of stores, and pass the company along to new owners.
The number one reason why they had to file was due to the rapid expansion of the store. They were growing too fast, putting themselves in major debt. It has been said that right before they filed for bankruptcy they ended up in over 500 million dollars in debt.
Another major factor as to the Changs had to file for bankruptcy is that the clothing store just simply is not as popular as it once was, leaving them to earn less money. This could be due to the rise of new popular clothing stores, especially with the rise of online shopping. They just could not keep up with the other leading companies.
If you have ever purchased anything from Forever 21 you have most likely noticed John 3:16 on the bag and or packaging. The Changs are Christians and spread their love by posting the very popular bible verse on their bags.
The bible verse John 3:16 - "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."
The company has found itself in trouble more than a few times. Forever 21 has had well over 50 lawsuits against them over the years. They have been sued for reasons such as copyright, working conditions, and offensive apparel.
They have been sued by employees, other big named brands, well-known celebrities, and influencers.
Pop singer, Ariana Grande is one of the big named celebrities to go after the clothing store back in 2019 right before they filed for bankruptcy. Grande decided to sue for over 10 million dollars claiming that the company copied and was promoting her style from her popular music video "7 Rings". She figured the company was pretending to be partnered up with Grande by using the same exact outfits she wore without including her at all. Since then the lawsuit has not been mentioned after the company filed for bankruptcy shortly after.
A Store For Everyone
Forever 21 is known to carry clothes for all genders and sizes but it wasn't always this way. The company used to only be aimed at women with limited size choices.
Back in 2006 is when they decided to expand their choices by adding men's clothing to the retail chain. Although the store continues to draw more women in than men it has grown popular for men to shop at the store since back in 2006.
In 2009 the clothing store finally promoted its plus-size clothing line. This not only gave the company an opportunity to bring in more customers but also gave women of different sizes new popular style choices and recognized the different shapes and sizes that we all are.
When 2015 came along the company went after starting its first kid's line. Sizes for kids range from 5/6 - 13/14
The Store Name
If you ever wondered why the store was named "Forever 21" then you have come to the right place, there is indeed a reason behind this name choice. Founder, Do Won Chang stated that he thinks 21 is the most "enviable" age meaning the most desired or exciting age.
The More You Know
Every day we pass by stores and or purchase items from different companies and we have no thought about how these companies grew to be as big as they are today but now the next time you walk into or pass by a Forever 21 retail store you will have some background knowledge on how the company came about.