March 19, 2011
Why I Don't Shop Forever 21 And Neither Should You
We love to find stylish items for great deals. However, those trendy clothes could be costing others serious money. Studying at a fashion college you learn about knock-offs and how damaging they can be to designers.
After graduating, I worked for a jewelry manufacturer, Christie Martin, who was well known in Los Angeles for her custom designs. She made all her own pieces by hand. She stamped her logo into each piece, a small task that would end up paying off in the future. A friend of hers was shopping at Forever 21 and noticed a necklace looking eerily similar to Christie's and when she turned it over she saw the Christie Martin logo on the $5 Forever 21 necklace. Now you may ask what harm is this? Well, first off it diminishes the price point Christie had set because her pieces were custom made. Customers would say they could just buy it at Forever 21 for a fraction of the cost. Second, it tarnishes her reputation. Forever 21 does not make quality items (as we are all well aware of) so to have her logo imprinted on an item that was cheaply made tells the consumer that Christie doesn't actually make her pieces by hand. It costs her business.
Working at Christie Martin made me aware of the foul practices of Forever 21. Los Angeles, as I'm sure the entire fashion industry, is a fairly small network. Many of Christie's friends were up and coming designers and they too felt the wrath of knock-offs. Buyers from the Forever 21 company would go into high-end boutiques (like Fred Segal) and request the most popular items. They would ship those exact items back to their factories to be recreated in a cheaper fashion. Rather than scout trends on the runway and conducting their own research then creating designs based on those concepts. It was flat out stealing and used no creative effort whatsoever. As far as I know, they are the only major stores that do this.
Unfortunately for designers, it is hard to prosecute the chain retailer. In Christie's case they made no effort to hide their foul practices by actually making a mold which included her personalized stamp. This definitely set her case against Forever 21 stronger than other designers could. But everyone knocks off designers. Yes, there are always lower priced items that look similar to designer ones. However, at least other stores like H&M and Target collaborate with designers to create lower priced lines. You never see designers collaborating with Forever 21 for the very reason that they despise the company.
It is very tempting to go into the store because let's face it we all can't afford $100 jeans or $30 shirts. But there are plenty of other options out there and I've been able to do it successfully for nearly 6 years now. If you are true lover of fashion then I would say show your support for the industry by not shopping at Forever 21.
How do you feel about knock-offs? How far is too far?