Is Forever 21 a Fast Fashion Brand?

Screenshot of Forever 21 website

Yes, Forever 21 is a fast fashion brand.

Forever 21 was founded by Koren-Americans Do Won Chang and Jin Sook Chang (worth $800 million each). It is a fast fashion retailer with 700 physical stores worldwide, and a website that sells to shoppers around the world.

Forever 21 makes over $3 billion in revenue each year, but the brand faced bankruptcy in 2019 before being bought out by investors.

In 2020, it stopped paying garment factories due to covid-19. (Find out more about the #PayUp campaign to support these workers and put pressure on Forever 21 to pay up).

On their website, Forever 21 has just one page about their supply chain, sustainability, and other issues, called Social Responsibility. This is missing key information such as: a supplier map, a code of conduct, and the objectives it has (if any) to reduce its impact on the planet.

One laughable policy it considers a part of its Social Responsibility is the ‘BYOB In-store Program’. This refers to them donating $0.05 to American Forests Association for each customer using their own bag to carry out a purchase. This is particularly low effort, as many developed countries already have this policy in place (for example, UK, Ireland, France). It also pales in comparison to other fashion brands’ efforts to be more sustainable, such as clothes recycling schemes, supporting sustainable fashion programs, and looking after the people in their supply chains.

Forever 21 also uses Klarna, a buy-now-pay-later scheme that encourages bigger purchases and getting into debt.

On the plus-side, one commentator said Forever 21’s bankruptcy signalled that its shoppers no longer wanted to support fast fashion, and they care about where their clothes come from, as well as sustainability. Yay!

Transparency Rating: 7/100
Sustainability Rating: 2/5

This snippet is part of a larger guide to UK fast fashion brands, which goes into more detail about the issues with fast fashion, why it will never be sustainable, and how to make your wardrobe more sustainable.

Data for this review is taken from the brand’s website, corporate website, and Wikipedia. The Transparency Rating is from Fashion Transparency Index 2020. The Sustainability Rating is from Good On You.


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