The chain, originally known as Fashion 21, was founded
in Los Angeles, California in 1984 by Korean-American
Do-Won Chang and his wife, Jin Sook. The first store
, located at 5637 N. Figueroa St. in the Highland
Park district of Los Angeles was only 900 square
feet (84 m2); it is still in operation
and bears the chain's original name. By the end
of the first year, sales had risen from $35,000
to $700,000. Fashion 21 eventually expanded at the
rate of a new store every six months and changed
the Fashion 21 brand name to Forever 21.
In 1989, Forever 21 opened its 11th store and first
store located in a mall, at the Panorama Mall which
is in Panorama City, CA. Forever 21 increased its
presence by expanding the average size to 5,000 square
feet (460 m2) per store. Since then,
Forever 21 has been running specialty stores in
major mall locations nationwide. In 1995, the company
expanded their store in Miami's Mall of the Americas,
this location was the first store outside of California.
Adding new stores every six months, Forever 21 had
reached a total of 40 stores by 1997.
Creating its own prototype store in Northridge Fashion
Center, Forever 21 has employed its proprietary
design concepts to all its stores since. By this
time Forever 21 also increased its average size
to 9,000 square feet (840 m2)
per store in prime spots of top tier malls.
The Forever 21 Retail Inc. owns and operates numerous
stores in different
formats. The stores are:
- Forever 21: main and original store carrying
women's clothing, accessories, swimwear, lingerie,
- XXI Forever: flagship mega store carrying
merchandise from all store formats.
- Heritage1981: vintage clothing, accessories,
and shoes for men and women.
- Gadzooks21: women merchandise at discounted
- Reference: women merchandise at discounted
- For Love21: Accessories for women.
- Twelve by Twelve: Upscale Los Angeles inspired
- Faith21: clothing for plus-size women
- Love21: contemporary line for women
In November 2001, factory workers producing clothing
for the company called for a store boycott until
working conditions and payroll improved. The lawsuit
was dropped when Forever 21 paid the workers' back
The matter was settled out of court and the company,
which admitted no wrongdoing, agreed to take steps
to ensure that its garments were not made in sweatshops.
In 2004, under pressure from PETA, Forever 21 agreed
to stop selling clothing made with animal fur.
Forever 21 has also been accused of stealing designs
from high-end fashion brands. Recently, designer
Diane von Fürstenberg
has filed a lawsuit against Forever 21 for duplicating
her dress designs.
Since that time Furstenberg has settled with the
company for undisclosed terms.
Singer and designer Gwen Stefani has filed a federal
lawsuit against the fashion megachain, claiming
the retailer illegally ripped off her Harajuku Lovers
Anna Sui has also
filed a lawsuit against Forever 21 alleging that
Forever 21 sold and offered for sale numerous women's
fast fashion clothing
items bearing a striking similarity to her products
featured at the most recent New York Fashion Week
Forever 21 has also come under fire from the South
Central Farmers and other California-based activist
groups in a campaign known collectively as Never
 The criticism
is based on Forever 21's involvement in a proposed
deal with developer Ralph Horowitz to build a warehouse
and distribution center on the land that was formerly
the site of the South Central Farm.
Forever 21 prints the biblical reference to
John 3:16 at the bottom of their shopping bags
due to the fervent biblical belief of the founder,