DATA

ABOUT THE BRAND

Forever 21 is an American fast fashion retailer with its headquarters in Los Angeles, California. The brand is one of the largest private companies in the US and produces of-the-moment pieces with strikingly fast turnaround. Forever 21 is trend-focused, rather than brand-focused, and this strategy has made the company a go-to for customers who want a little bit of everything. The brands customer includes all ages, genders, and sizes—anyone who understands the importance of fast fashion.

HIGHLIGHTS

THE PROS:

💪🏼 In October 2016, Forever 21 signed the Responsible Sourcing Network’s Cotton Pledge, committing to not knowingly source cotton from Uzbekistan.

♻️ Forever 21 established a fur-free policy in 2004, and a ban on angora in 2014. The brand has worked with PETA to meet guidelines to avoid cruelty to animals however it does not have a policy in place to ensure the responsible sourcing of leather or of down.

THE CONS:

🔍 Forever 21 does not report annually on sustainability practices and progress, or share any goals regarding how it is working to improve environmental and social conditions in its supply chain.

🔍 The brand does not publicly disclose the countries in which its suppliers are located or the supplier names and addresses.

💪🏼 The brand does not undertake 3rd party independent audits of its direct vendors. Additionally, we don’t have any information on if the brand monitors the social practices of its supply chain beyond its direct suppliers, how the brand addresses audit fatigue, or audit reports and corrective action plans.

♻️ We don’t have any information on if or how the brand monitors the environmental practices of its supply chain, any policies to limit the use or impact of hazardous chemicals, or any policies to reduce resource use.

Forever 21 was founded in 1984, and states it is the 5th largest specialty retailer in the United States. The brand was founded by Do Won & Jin Sook Chang.

The brand operates more than 815 stores in 57 countries worldwide including the United States, and international operations in Canada, China, Europe, Hong Kong, India, Israel, Japan, Korea, Latin America, Mexico, Australia, Philippines and United Kingdom.

The brand states its goal is to become an US$8 billion company by 2017. We don’t have any further information on this.

The brand launched F21 Red in 2014, a sub brand of on trend staples at low prices for men, women, and children. The first three F21 Red stores opened in April 2017 in key markets, and the brand has announced plans to open further stores across the United States bringing the total to over 70 by year end.

The brand self identifies as a fast fashion brand, and states new merchandise is dropped into stores on a daily basis.

We don’t have any information on how many people are employed throughout the brands entire supply chain, how many suppliers the brand uses, annual revenue, lead times, the number of garments made annually, how many collections the brand releases annually, or how long its products are designed to last.

It is unclear if Forever 21 can trace its entire supply chain.

The brand does not publicly disclose the countries in which its suppliers are located or the supplier names and addresses.

Our research shows that many of the clothes featured on the brands website have ‘Made in China’ listed as the country of origin.

Forever 21 does not report annually on sustainability practices and progress.

The brand does not communicate the environmental impact of its supply chain, except for a statement about shipping by sea to reduce carbon emission.

In April 2017, The Fashion Transparency Index gave Forever 21 a score of 3%. This rating means that the brand is “disclosing nothing at all or a very limited number of policies.”

The brand states that Forever 21 enters into a comprehensive agreement with each of its vendors and their factories, under which they commit to comply with their legal requirements on wages and workers rights.

Forever 21 states it has Vendor Compliance Standards which were developed to comply with industry standards, local labor laws, the California Transparency in Supply Chain Act, the UN Declaration of Human Rights and the ILO Core Conventions. A complete list of its Vendor Compliance Standards are not publicly available.

We don’t have any information on how the brand addresses collective bargaining rights, how the brand addresses freedom of movement for workers at supplier facilities, whether or not supplier recruitment fees are prohibited, how the brand addresses unsafe work conditions, or what levels of the supply chain the code of conduct applies to.

Forever 21 states it has a Vendor Audit Program which all factories producing goods for the brand must participate in. Audits are conducted by members of the brand’s Vendor Compliance team at random, focussed on its non-US manufacturing facilities to ensure its Compliance Standards are met. Audits are both announced and unannounced, and the brand does not report that it uses 3rd party independent auditors. We don’t have information on how often audits are conducted.

The brands Vendor Compliance Team provides a written evaluation of action items for the factory, and states that it works to provide ongoing information, advice, and support on fair labor, health and safety, and related issues.

In November 2016,  Los Angeles Times reported that the United States Labor Department discovered that numerous Los Angeles garment companies, that supply clothing to retailers such as Forever 21, were paying their workers as little as $4 an hour. The legal minimum wage in California at the time of the article was $10.00 an hour.  According to the article, the U.S. Labor department stated that it had penalized the garment companies and some intermediary manufacturers by ordering the companies to pay $1.3 million in lost wages and damages to workers.

 

 

 

/ We don’t have any information on whether or not the brand invests in any sustainable material innovations.

Forever 21 reports that it established a fur-free policy in 2004, and a ban on angora in 2014. The brand states it has worked with PETA to meet guidelines to avoid cruelty to animals and continues to look for ways to improve.

/ The brand does not have a policy in place to ensure the responsible sourcing of leather, or any publicly available policy that ensures the responsible sourcing of down.

/ The brand states that all of Forever 21’s plastic and paper bags are 100% recyclable and reusable.

We don’t have any information on if the brand uses renewable energy at any stage of its supply chain, if the brand has measured its greenhouse gas emissions for its supply chain, the scope of its greenhouse gas emissions measurements, if the brand has measured its water use at any stage of the supply chain, what the brand is doing to reduce its water use in its supply chain, policies in place to limit the use of hazardous chemicals, policies in place to limit the impact of hazardous chemicals, policies and strategies the brand has to manage waste and recycling during production and any strategies the brand has in place to manage overstock.

/ We don’t have any information on if the brand monitors the environmental practices of its supply chain, how the brand monitors the environmental practices of its supply chain, what levels and how much of its supply chain it monitors, how often it monitors its supply chain, audit reports and corrective action plans, whether or not the brand has policies in place that assist those suppliers that perform poorly on audits to improve their operations.

/ Rainforest Action Network (RAN) released a report in 2015 documenting the results of decades of irresponsible fabric sourcing including, human rights abuse to forest-dependent communities caused by deforestation from tree-based fabric production companies. Forever 21 was one of the companies targeted in the report.

 

 

/ The brand states on its website that its goal is to become an US$8 billion company by 2017 and open 600 stores in the next 3 years. We don’t have any further information on this.

/ The brand does not share any goals regarding how it is working to improve environmental and social conditions in its supply chain. Do you know of any?

/ The brand does not publicly disclose that it is a part of any multi stakeholder initiatives to improve the social and environmental impact of its supply chain.

 

In 2009, the brand started its Give to Love, Love to Give campaigns, where it partners with an organization on a specific collection, and a portion of the proceeds is donated to the designated charity, during a given time frame. Beneficiaries of the campaign have included Donors Choose, Keep A Breast, and ASPCA.

Forever 21 reports they have donated more than 800,000 units of clothing to Soles 4 Souls.

The brand reports donating 700,000 units of clothing to On Your Feet Family Resource Center.

The brand states it donated 100% of its global online sales on Friday March 18, 2011 to the American Red Cross to support the victims of Japan’s earthquake and tsunami.

Forever 21 reports working with Brownson House, helping those in a city neighboring their headquarters, by hosting food drives, and giving school supplies.

The brand reports to providing shopping sprees for the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

 

 

Forever 21 is a privately owned company.

In January 2017, Fashion Law reported that Forever 21 has been sued more than 50 times in the last 30-some years, mainly for copy infringement.

/ In July 2017, Forbes reported that the real time net worth of Forever 21 CEO and founder is estimated to be $3 billion.

/ In August 2013, Jezebel published a leaked letter from Forever 21 management to their employees in 2013. The letter states that the company would be demoting full-time non-management employees to part-time status, hence avoiding having to pay for healthcare and other benefits.  

/ In August 2015, FashionUnited reported that Adidas was suing Forever 21 for violating its three stripe trademark.

In July 2016, Yahoo Style reported that Forever 21 removed a number of boys T-shirts from its children’s clothing line after receiving criticism.  The article explains that the T-shirts featured phrases such as, “Sorry ladies I only date models,” and “Chicks are all over me.”  Forever 21 told Yahoo Style that they “sincerely apologize to anyone who was offended by the products.”

 

The brand states that it’s brand headquarters is the site of California’s 3rd largest solar power installation.

Forever 21 has not reported investing in any sustainability related innovations in its supply chain.

VOICES

Forbes logoGREG PETRO | FORBES

“Millennial women that skew toward the younger end of the demographic are very price sensitive, but they also want to have the latest looks. This is a major driving force behind fast fashion, and Forever 21 is one of the main players in that space due to its ability to attract price-conscious shoppers who want to look good without spending a fortune. They’re OK with the fact that the clothes are essentially disposable, because they can still afford to come back for more.” – 04/12/2016


AMY MERRICK | NEW YORKER

“Writing about Forever 21, a contributor to a college-fashion Web site last year skimmed over labor concerns in a single paragraph, then spent the rest of her post explaining how to choose the best-made items in the store. She recommended holding clothes up to the light to determine whether they’re see-through, and pulling gently on their seams to see if they unravel. It’s a vivid illustration of one reason Forever 21 shoppers keep coming back: with clothes so cheap and flimsy, they need to return often to replenish their closets.” –  6/6/2014


CHAVIE LIEBER | RACKED

“the brand’s reputation is far from spotless. According to a report by Privco, Forever 21 has been sued more than 50 times by designers like Diane von Furstenberg and Anna Sui for allegedly knocking off designs. Forever has also faced countless labor lawsuits that cite poor factory conditions, and was even subpoenaed by the U.S. Department of Labor in 2012 to hand over supply chain information.”

“While shoppers might be interested in sustainable fashion in theory, Forever 21’s strong revenue numbers imply many are not ready to give up competitive pricing just yet, regardless of the repercussions that come with it.” – 3/19/2015


SHANNON WHITEHEAD | HUFFINGTON POST

Fast fashion giants, such as H&M, Zara and Forever21, are concerned with the bottom line and the bottom line alone. Their business models are dependent on the consumers’ desire for new clothing to wear — which is instinctive if the clothing falls apart in one wash.” – 10/19/2014

“‘With F21 Red, we are able to deliver greater quantities of the styles and trends customers seek, while maintaining the value and entry-level category price points Forever 21 is known for offering,’ general merchandising manager Linda Chang.”- Linda Chang, Racked 5/8/2014