Forever 21 continues heavy restructuring, exits Japan
American fashion chain Forever 21 announced on Wednesday its exit from Japan, scheduled for late October, which will include 14 store closures and the exit of its local online store.
Since being on the verge of bankruptcy for months, the company, which once rode the popular wave of 'fast-fashion', is not only suffering in Japan, but also in the United States, where physical retail has slumped, hurt by the explosion of e-commerce. In the U.S., as in the United Kingdom, the brand, however, is quickly cutting back its store count with 100 closures planned domestically.
Furthermore, Forever 21 has also pulled out of some markets all together. Notably, in Ireland in 2018, but also in France, where it stopped its operations at the beginning of the year. Ten or so French stores, including its Parisian flagship on rue de Rivoli, have been closed. Forever 21 also announced in the spring that it will cease operations in China.
Targeting a young clientele, Forever 21's Japanese stores are located in the trendy areas of Tokyo (Shibuya, Shinjuku), Yokohama, Osaka, Fukuoka and Sendai. For a few months, there was even a Forever 21 location in Ginza, the most expensive district in Tokyo where luxury brands such as Armani, Louis Vuitton, Chanel, and more are located.
In Japan, staff costs and rents are very high, mainly due to a shortage of distribution labor and the need to be present in the same area as competitors.
Although once threatened by foreign brands of the same type like H&M, Zara, Gap, and Japanese clothing giant Uniqlo, Forever 21 had managed to stand out by raising the quality of its clothes and by focusing on 'fashion basics', which stay in style longer than 'fast fashion', by definition.
At the international level, Forever 21 was most recently trying to negotiate new financing, but is also considering filing for bankruptcy. Founded in 1984, the brand currently has more than 800 stores worldwide.
(Writing with AFP)
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