We shopped at the last 3 Forever 21s in Manhattan since the company filed for bankruptcy and saw firsthand why the brand continues to struggle

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Forever 21s are closing all over the world. Here’s what it’s like at NYC’s three remaining locations. Joey Hadden/Business Insider


I began my tour of Manhattan’s last remaining Forever 21s at the Soho location, which Yelpers have reported as already closed.

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Source: Yelp


But the store is still very much open.

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The first thing I noticed about this location was how organised it appeared.

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I started shopping at Forever 21 a decade ago, and I’ve never seen a location this neat and organised.

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What shocked me the most was that there was only one sale rack …

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… which was one of the only messy areas of the store.

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While discount signs were present throughout the store, there was no sale-specific area aside from that rack.

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As soon as I entered the store, I grabbed one of these shopping bags and began browsing.

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First, I grabbed these pants from the “Winter Collection.”

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After tossing them into my shopping bag, I realised that the bag had a gaping hole in the bottom of it.

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I continued to make my way around the store as I grabbed a variety of clothing items to try on.

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I skipped these bike shorts because they were rough to the touch. They felt like sandpaper.

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I even hit the men’s department — which appeared to be untouched. In fact, the whole store kind of felt this way.

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There were hardly any people in the store, and most of them seemed to be working there, though none made an effort to engage with me.

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After picking various items, I headed to the dressing room to try everything on and see if anything seemed to be built to last.

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The first thing I tried on was this corduroy-style shirt that was riddled with loose threads.

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One look at the tag and it wasn’t clear what the shirt was made of, but it wasn’t very comfortable.

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The next thing I tried on was an oversized denim jacket — a Gen Z closet staple.

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After glancing at the tag, I saw that the denim jacket wasn’t made from 100% cotton.

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Source: Naturally Savvy


Materials included polyester, a petroleum-based synthetic fabric that has no absorbency. The jacket felt paper-thin …

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Source: Ecocult


… and stiff. This was a sorry excuse for a jacket in my opinion.

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Next, I checked the material of the “winter” pants I picked up. According to the New York Times, work pants built to last should be made of Tencel or wool. But these pants were pretty much just polyester.

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They looked decent on, but they felt as warm as a pair of see-through tights. I would never buy them for a winter in New York.

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This is the face I made when I unzipped the “winter” pants and they pinched my belly. Ouch.

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Next, I tried on this cropped pullover sweater that was certainly my size but disproportionately designed — I could barely get my head through the neck hole, and when I did, it choked my neck slightly.

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Next, I tried this overly-distressed sweater on.

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Normally, I like a distressed article of clothing, but this sweater felt like it could actually unravel at any moment.

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I also tried on this shirt and thought that these sunglasses would likely come off after just one wash.

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The last thing I tried on was this onesie because it had a $US50 price tag a month after Christmas. I thought maybe this wasn’t on sale because it was so comfy, but it wasn’t comfy at all. The price is still a mystery to me.

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I didn’t find anything that seemed it would last at Forever 21, but I checked out the cash register anyway, which seemed to house the most random collection of snacks and junk.

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Next, I headed to the Penn Station location, which is expected to close this year.

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Source: Business Insider


I immediately noticed there were more sale signs at this location than the store in Soho.

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Inside, there was an “Up to 60% off storewide” sign, which made this location feel more like a store that’s about to close.

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This location was messier than Soho.

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It was also bigger than the Soho store and felt like slightly less of a ghost-town.

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But it featured the same cheaply-made clothing.

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There were some clothes I could see my hand through. This is a sign the piece won’t last long.

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Source: The New York Times


This location also had its own Riley Rose store — Forever 21’s beauty branch that will reportedly be closing all its stores.

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Source: Allure


When I took a quick peek in the store, it seemed like it was already ramping down.

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There were many sale shelves that were mostly empty.

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And while there were “try me” stickers everywhere …

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… there didn’t seem to be any wands or swabs to apply makeup.

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There were only bottles of alcohol and makeup remover on a tiny dirty table.

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Did they really expect me to apply eye shadow from this used palette with my fingers?

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Back in Forever 21, this location had all the sale racks I expected to see at the Soho location.

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I even found the Christmas onesie that wasn’t in a sale section at the Soho location.

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A price menu showed low costs that were just too good to be true for well-made clothing.

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Some of the sale racks were mostly empty too.

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The third and final Forever 21 location in New York is the flagship store in Times Square.

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This was by far the biggest — and the busiest— of the three remaining locations.

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It also had quite a few empty racks …

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… scattered throughout the store.

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There were some empty areas where I couldn’t even tell what was supposed to be displayed there.

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I found more pieces of clothing that looked nice on the rack but seemed to be cheaply made after examining them.

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This location also had many sale racks …

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The rooms full of sale racks just looked like piles of unwanted junk.

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And the price menu confirmed this with its ridiculously low prices.

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This was the only location that had a line for the dressing room, which may be a good sign for this location’s longevity.

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Ultimately, all three stores gave off a similar vibe — “we wish people were here.”

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