Share
 
Forever 21 loses China Market
Share archives

Forever 21 was founded in Los Angeles in 1984 by Korean American Do Won Chang (Zhang Dongwen) and his wife Jin Sook. At its most brilliant time, it had opened more than 800 stores around the world.

In the early 1980s, South Korean and Iranian immigrants arrived in Los Angeles in large numbers, leading the clothing eco-chain from manufacturing, wholesale to retail.

In 1984, Mr. and Mrs. Zhang Dongwen took out their working savings and opened a 25-square-metre clothing store in Highland Park Town, named FASHION 21, which specializes in Korean-produced and cheaper adolescent clothes selected by Mrs. Zhang.

Originally, they only wanted to run costumes that customers could afford and look good, mainly for Korean customers. Who knows that its popular price and strong sense of fashion are also popular with native Americans.

In 1989, the couple, who had saved their first barrel of gold, said goodbye to the small street facade and set up their first fashion store in Panorama, California, at the PANORAMACITY shopping mall. They have bigger dreams and hope their brand will last forever, so Forever 21 was born.

In terms of fashion style, unlike the American leisure style of other fast fashion brands, Forever 21 is more popular for its sweet line, simple and lightweight design style, bright color and youthful vitality.

The original gene laid the foundation for Forever 21's long-standing product style, and none of the items Forever 21 sold exceeded $60. "We also have shoulder skirts and T-shirts priced below $20," Linda said. This means that customers entering the store hardly need to flip through the label first in fear.

It's worth noting that this clothing chain Empire has 477 stores, 35,000 employees and annual sales of $3 billion as early as 2011.

Forever 21 later developed into a family business, with father Zhang Dongwen as CEO and mother Zhang Jinshu as chief purchasing officer. Their daughter Linda was in charge of marketing, while daughter Esther led the visual display team. The existing brands are Forever 21, Heritage 1981, HTG81KIDS, Twelve by Twelve, 21Men, Love 21, Faith 21.

Where is Forever 21 wrong?

Forever 21 is different from the popular American leisure style, preferring the sweet line. The style of fashion design is simple and lightweight. The target group is women consumers aged 20-30. "Fast" and "cheap" became the brand's label.

Because of its unique positioning, several years ago, Forever 21 and Chinese consumers had a sweet period.

In 2014, Forever 21 opened its first store in Hangzhou and made a lot of money. "Forever 21 is the first store in Hangzhou with few outlets in China. It has been in good condition for two months. On the opening day, its turnover broke through 250,000 yuan. "Tang Xuecheng, the design director of the mall where he lives, said in an interview with the Daily Business Daily.

In fact, Forever 21 entered the Chinese market with twists and turns. In 2008, it opened its first store in Changshu, Jiangsu Province. It soon proved that fast fashion brands are facing difficulties after leaving the first-line market. Forever 21 quit the Chinese market quickly and returned in 2011.

In the ten years since its entry into the Chinese market, Forever 21 has opened 28 stores, closed 8 stores, and finally maintained around 20 stores. Compared with 593 stores of ZARA and its sister brands, 535 stores of H&M and 672 stores of Uniqlo, Forever 21's early exit seems less surprising. In terms of magnitude, it is facing the Chinese market, which has been divided up by several fast fashion giants.

In addition to strategic factors, many consumers believe that poor quality and style do not meet the preferences of Chinese consumers is the fatal injury of Forever 21.

"If I want to focus on design and fashion, then I will choose ZARA and H&M. If I want to choose quality, I will choose Uniqlo. Forever 21 wins at price, but compared with its mediocre design and poor quality, this does not seem to be my reason to buy it."

On the other hand, Forever 21 has been sued by Gucci, Puma and Adidas in recent years. The brand image of Forever 21 has been seriously damaged due to the suspected plagiarism of the waveguide.

Some analysts believe that in the long run, putting too much time and energy into litigation disputes will make the fast fashion brand in crisis too busy to take care of itself, let alone carry out strategic transformation and upgrading.

Brand reputation and goodwill are constantly consumed in endless infringement news. For millennial consumers who yearn for authenticity and individuality, the importance of brand image is rising, and the scandal-ridden Forever 21 situation is becoming dangerous.

Forever 21 is also in a state of global decline: in October 2017, the first flagship store in Harajuku, Tokyo, Japan, was closed; in January 2018, Amsterdam was closed. Forever 21 continues to shrink its stores in the UK, Europe and other markets.