In September 2019, Forever 21 became the latest fast fashion brand to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. The company announced it would shutter 350 stores in total, including 178 in the United States alone. (That’s more than half their stock—Forever 21 owns around 600 stores, globally.) Fast forward five months and the chain has unexpectedly risen from the dead: according to BBC, three buyers—brand management company Authentic Brands, mall conglomerate Simon Property and real estate company Brookfield Property—have purchased the brand. They plan on keeping the lights on in 448 US stores, and launching new accessories lines. The question is now—why? Just let it die?
For years, studies have shown that young people (the kind who used to frequent Forever 21) have begun preferring resale commerce to fast fashion, the latter of which is often cheaper in quality and more expensive. According to a 2017 report conducted by Credit Suisse, 20% to 25% of malls are expected to close by 2022, too—that limits the spaces where Forever 21 can even exist (though it does explain why mall bosses Simon Property is part of the deal; it’s gotta be some sort of Hail Mary.) Beyond that, Forever 21 faced an expensive lawsuit filed by Ariana Grande, who alleged the company stole her image to sell products just before filing for bankruptcy. Partnered with Forever 21's frequent PR disasters, such as sending diet bars to plus-size shoppers, lifting styles from indie designers, some meant to promote Planned Parenthood, and more, I wonder if there’s even faith in the brand at all. Surely there are other websites that sell poorly constructed, heather gray bodycon dresses?