As broke college students and teenagers, Forever 21 and H&M have been our affordable fashion staples since we were preteens. Unfortunately, as they begin to tap dance around bankruptcy, we might have to get used to walking into malls without these familiar shops.
Surprisingly enough, Forever 21 began as a single storefront in L.A. owned by the couple Do Won and Jin Sook Chang in the ‘80s. It didn’t blow up until the 2008 recession when it began preying on the empty department stores and storefronts of dying retailers like Mervyn’s and Gottschalks. It thrived on its ability to provide 20-year-olds with affordable fashion, so that they could look like their favorite celebrities without going broke.
As time went on, Forever 21 began expanding their offerings to include children’s clothing, menswear, maternity and plus-size clothing. By doing so, they fell into the same patterns that caused the traditional retailers to die off in the first place. Today’s consumers want fast fashion. They want to walk into a store, get the specific look they have in mind and get out. With the new vast variety in Forever 21’s stores, these consumers can no longer achieve the quick shopping they desire. For this reason, many have begun to turn to online alternatives, such as Stitch Fix, Fashion Nova and Amazon.
Both Forever 21 and H&M also tend to create clothing with embellishments that most teens and young adults would rather do without. For instance, jean jackets are always in fashion, but neither store seems okay with selling a simple denim jacket. If you go to these stores for one, you can be sure it will have at least three idiotic patches, a glittery logo about tacos or completely unecessary zippers zigzagging across the fabric. This has caused many older shoppers, as young as 18 according to the Los Angeles Times, to turn to more mature shops which sell clothing more appropriate for job interviews or the workplace.
H&M plans on shutting the doors of 160 of its shops, although these locations are not yet named. This may not be too impactful, though, considering there are nearly 5,000 of their shops worldwide. Forever 21, on the other hand, has already closed down a handful of shops in Connecticut alone, including its Danbury and Waterbury locations. This spells bad news for the company, considering there are only 723 stores total. With only nine Forever 21s in Connecticut, it may soon become impossible to go shopping at one near UConn at all.
So if you still haven’t gotten your back-to-school shopping done, you might have to start searching online. The clothes you’re looking for might not be in the mall anymore.
Rebecca Maher is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.