We went shopping at Forever 21 to see why the retailer is reportedly considering a major turnaround plan

Bethany Biron/Business InsiderForever 21 could be in trouble.
  • Forever 21 is reportedly considering teaming up with a private-equity firm to finance a large-scale restructuring plan.
  • Though the retailer has long been a favourite among teen shoppers, it’s lost its footing amid rising competition from other low-priced apparel stores and trendy e-commerce companies.
  • We shopped at a Forever 21 store to see why the brand is in need of a major overhaul.

As Forever 21 teeters on the brink of bankruptcy, the retailer is eyeing a private-equity bailout to fund its much-needed turnaround.

The fast-fashion brand is reportedly in talks with Apollo Global Management to help raise debtor-in-possession funds if the time ultimately comes for Forever 21 to file for bankruptcy, according to Bloomberg. The move would allow founder Do Won Chang to maintain control, while setting in motion a large-scale restructuring plan intended to save the business.

Forever 21 has been particularly hard hit by rising competition from fellow low-priced apparel competitors as well as the rise of buzzy e-commerce companies like Fashion Nova and Boohoo. Though Forever 21 doesn’t disclose financials, the Los Angeles-based chain shuttered several international stores in recent years, including most recently pulling out of China completely in April.

Despite serving an enthusiastic demographic of teenager shoppers since it first opened its doors in 1984, Forever 21 has shown continued signs of strife in recent years in the form of diminishing foot traffic, rampant discounts, and picked-over sales racks.

We visited a Forever 21 store in New York City and found just how much work the company needs to do in order to stay above water:


We visited the Forever 21 location at Westfield World Trade Center, a behemoth mall located near the 9/11 Memorial and nestled within a busy subway hub. Right away, we were bombarded with sale signs everywhere, including this one at the doorway.

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As we walked through the store, there were several messy, disorganized racks that seemed to lack any cohesive aesthetic.

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Within just a few minutes we quickly stumbled into a room dedicated to “sweet deal” sales, labelled in aggressively bold colours.

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Nearby, we found various other sale items haphazardly placed on a display table.

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However, this sale table might be the most egregious offender.

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Note the trash can that was accidentally left out on the floor, to the left.


And here we have yet another sale display.

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There were also several empty shelves and bare walls. Here was the first one we spotted.

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And here’s another.

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Things weren’t looking so great near the cash wrap, either.

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Are those neck pillows?


A closer look at the cash wrap revealed a jumbled assortment of items, including a mismatched variety of socks and beauty products.

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There was also food.

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Also spotted near the cash wrap: tangled jewellery and a lone neon visor. The store was filled with neon colours and brand logos, part of a recent ’80s aesthetic push that included a Forever 21 x Speedo collection that was launched last month.

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Source: Bustle


Other recent collaborations include the United States Postal Service clothing line, first launched in March. We found a few remaining sweatshirts on the racks.

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The collection also included T-shirts, joggers, tube tops, and jackets, all made with USPS branding and imagery used from the 1970s to the 1990s.

Source: Business Insider


Beyond attempts at splashy collections, Forever 21 has also tried to expand its reach by engaging new demographics like the plus-size market.

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Forever 21 first launched its plus-size collection in 2009, though it only began offering certain products like plus-size denim in 2017. Since its launch, consumers have had grievances that the line isn’t as inclusive as it boasts, given its limited sizing.

Source: Insider


Forever 21 has also sold menswear since 2006.

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As you can see, the section didn’t have many takers.


Forever 21 has also beefed up its athletic apparel inventory in recent years in an attempt to capitalise on the booming athleisure market.

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Still, these efforts appear to be futile, as exemplified by the Manhattan store that was deserted around 11 a.m. on a Tuesday.

Bethany Biron/Business Insider

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