Forever 21 is an American clothing brand founded by Jin Sook and Do Won Chang in 1984.
Its hip clothes were a major hit amongst teens, and the brand made whopping sales of seven hundred thousand dollars in the first year.
With time, Forever 21’s popularity grew, and the brand opened up retail stores all around the globe.
In the past few years, however, the brand has faced backlash for its unethical practices.
One big question everyone has is whether Forever 21 is fast-fashion or not.
Let’s take a look at the brand’s manufacturing practices and figure it out.
Does Forever 21 use synthetic fibers as the primary clothing material?
Yes. Forever 21 has all its clothes made with synthetic fibers such as Polyester, Nylon, Rayon, Viscose, and Elastane.
All these fabrics are non-biodegradable and toxic to human beings and animals.
Does Forever 21 use toxic dyes in its clothes?
Yes, Forever 21 aims to produce inexpensive clothes, so it uses cheap and toxic dyes. The brand runs the dyed water into lakes and seas untreated, leading to the death of underwater life.
Does Forever 21 launch all the trendy garments and styles shortly after celebrities wear them?
Yes. Forever 21 has been sued several times for copying different designers. The brand is famous for its trendy, inexpensive collection of clothes
Does Forever 21 have lower prices than pioneers of fashion trends?
Yes, it is one of the cheapest fashion brands in the United States. At forever 21, you can get a tank top for as low as $5, quality of those clothes, however, is not decent, and they wear out after a few washes.
Does Forever 21 have factories in third-world countries?
Forever 21 has most of its factories in the United States, but the brand has come under fire for not treating its employees fairly.
Those factories have unsatisfactory conditions. The poor women work fourteen to sixteen hours and get below minimum wage.
Forever 21 is a fast-fashion brand.
Is Forever 21 a fast fashion brand?
Yes, a brand that produces tank tops as cheap as five dollars and uses only synthetic fabrics for its clothes is undoubtedly fast fashion.
Does Forever 21 use child labor?
The glamorous face of the fashion industry hides a lot of ugly truths. One such ugly truth is child labor. In 2007, Uzbekistan’s government officials came under fire for removing children from schools and making them work in the cotton fields.
The children worked in extreme weather conditions for long hours to ensure the proper plucking of cotton buds.
Many child welfare organizations raised their voice against the inhumane act and urged the clothing brands to ban the use of cotton originating from Uzbekistan.
While many big names spoke up against inhumane practices and banned Uzbekistan’s cotton, Forever 21 took no such action. The brand did not acknowledge child labor in the cotton industry of Uzbekistan.
Forever 21 did, however, claim that all its suppliers are assessed to ensure they do not employ any underage children.
In 2021, Uzbekistan stopped employing underage children in the cotton industry, but Forever 21’s reputation is still stained.
To this day, the brand claims all its factories are child labor free, but one of its supply chains is certified by labor standards.
Is Forever 21 good for the environment?
Forever 21 does not have any clear set of policies regarding environmental protection.
Since the brand is one of the biggest names in the fast fashion industry, it is not hard to decipher how much it cares about the planet and its inhabitants.
The trendy Forever 21 clothes are made with cheap, synthetic fabrics like polyester, rayon, and viscose.
These materials are hazardous to the environment and to those who wear them. When polyester comes in contact with human skin, it releases phthalate- an extremely toxic compound that may cause cancer, psoriasis, eczema, and other medical conditions.
On every wash, polyester releases plastic microfibers that run into the seas, killing fish and underwater plants.
Since these clothes are of poor quality, they wear out after one or two washes and end up in landfills, adding more to the already polluted world.
The dyes used to color these clothes are toxic to marine life too. The untreated, dyed water runs into the seas and results in the death of underwater life.
Forever 21 is not taking action to reduce its factories’ greenhouse gas emissions either.
Every day, its factories emit untreated gasses into the environment and add to the depletion of the ozone layer.
The brand is, however, launching programs like “Bring your own bag” that urge customers to bring their bags to Forever 21 stores. It also plans on making its packaging materials one hundred percent recycled plastic.
In 2015, the brand planted the country’s largest single rooftop solar panels on its LA headquarters to save non-renewable energy resources.
This, however, is not enough to make the brand environment friendly. Our final verdict is that Forever 21 is not good for the environment.
What is wrong with Forever 21?
Forever 21 is destroying the planet with its unsustainable practices. The brand produces thousands of low-quality, inexpensive clothes made with non-biodegradable and toxic fabrics and dyes.
Forever 21 does not treat its employees well either. All the laborers in its factories in the US and elsewhere work for sixteen hours a day and are extremely underpaid.
The brand exploits poor people by paying them according to the number of articles they stitch.
One of the Forever 21 employees revealed that the brand pays her only twelve cents to stitch one vest.
United States Department of Labor took notice of Forever 21’s unfair payment policies.
The brand was sued for not giving sufficient information regarding what it pays the factory workers.
The brand’s inhumane practices have resulted in lost customers and sales. In 2019, Forever 21 filed for bankruptcy after its sales decreased exponentially.
While some believe that the reason behind its downfall is an unstrategic expansion in Asia and Europe, others believe that all this is karma for Forever 21’s unjust policies.