Since the 1980s, Forever 21’s name has been synonymous with chic,  and highly affordable fashion for young women. Built by Korean immigrants in Los Angeles, the company expanded to more than 500 stores worldwide over the course of three decades. By 2015, Forever 21 peaked at nearly $4.5 billion in income, solidifying its legacy as one of the most influential women’s fast fashion clothing brands of the past few decades. By 2017, the company was maintaining over 500 stores in the United States alone.

A new streamlined vision

In the last year, however, the changing retail landscape, as well as financial roadblocks, have provided an opportunity for Forever 21 to restructure operations, reinventing their brand and business to put more focus on their e-commerce operations. “The retail industry is obviously changing,” Linda Chang, Forever 21’s executive vice president, told The New York Times this fall. “There has been a softening of mall traffic and sales are shifting more to online.”  

From a product standpoint, however, Forever 21 is staying true to its roots by stocking up-to-date, cost-effective items for young women, men and kids, keeping prices under $50 as much as possible. They’re also making serious moves to catch up to the segment of their faithful customer base that is growing up and looking for new kinds of outfits, offering products that will keep the aging segment of their millennial fanbase shopping there even as their tastes become more mature (and expensive).

Recent high-profile collaborations have included a size-inclusive tennis-click streetwear line with K-Swiss and a relaunch for Kimora Lee Simmons’ iconic Phat Farm offshoot brand Baby Phat. Along with collaborations, products like their attention-grabbing Christmas tree suit, proved that despite plenty of changes, the company isn’t abandoning a key part of its brand identity: playfulness.

Always learning from their fanbase

When it comes to the prospect of broadening their customer base, don’t underestimate Forever 21’s acute understanding of who their customer base is, and their proven ability to interact with them effectively. Forever 21 has traditionally been at the vanguard of brand social media voice, and was rated the 11th most engaging consumer brand in the world, in Shareablee’s assessment last year.

In addition to their sassy presence on Twitter and Instagram (with a formidable 16 million follower base that outranks many of their competitors), their comprehensive blog pays close attention to the fashion landscape. Its conversational posts highlight Forever 21’s focus on getting well ahead of trends, pointing customers to the clothing that matters, and showing them how to make those items work together.

Forever 21 is also adapting to an ever-changing ecommerce landscape by making checkout easier for the customer and offering some additional perks. To build a bond with their base, the brand has introduced credit card and customer loyalty cards to incentivise customers to keep up with their new projects and innovations. They’re also giving customers a hassle-free online shopping experience by offering Amazon Pay as a checkout option.