scorecardHow Forever 21 went from a fast-fashion powerhouse to a brand reportedly eyeing bankruptcy and a troublesome future
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How Forever 21 went from a fast-fashion powerhouse to a brand reportedly eyeing bankruptcy and a troublesome future

How Forever 21 went from a fast-fashion powerhouse to a brand reportedly eyeing bankruptcy and a troublesome future
Retail2 min read

Forever 21

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The fast-fashion retailer is reportedly eyeing bankruptcy.

  • Forever 21, once one of the world's leading clothing retailers, has fallen on hard times.
  • The company was founded in 1984 and pulled in $700,000 in sales in its first year. Today there are over 800 Forever 21 stores worldwide.
  • Founders Jin Sook and Do Won "Don" Chang had a combined net worth of $5.9 billion at the company's peak in 2015, Forbes reported. They were no longer billionaires as of July, according to Forbes' estimates.
  • Forever 21 is evaluating a restructuring plan and is considering filing for bankruptcy, Bloomberg reported in August.
  • On Thursday, Forever 21 denied to Business Insider that it had imminent plans for bankruptcy, despite reports. "Our stores are open and it is our intention to continue to operate the vast majority of U.S. stores, as well as a smaller amount of international stores, providing customers with great service and the curated assortment of merchandise that they love and expect from Forever 21. Please visit our store locator to find the most up to date store list," the company said in a statement.
  • Here is the complete story of Forever 21, from its quick rise to become a top teen retailer to its slowdown and uncertain future.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Once a hot spot for teen clothing, Forever 21 is reportedly exploring restructuring options for its business, including a potential bankruptcy filing.

The company is privately owned and does not release sales numbers, but store closures in large markets like London and China and the downsizing of various US stores suggest the company has hit a rough patch.

But before its struggles, Forever 21 seemed unstoppable.

The company was founded by husband-and-wife duo Jin Sook and Do Won "Don" Chang after they emigrated from South Korea to Los Angeles in 1981. The pair opened their first store, then called Fashion 21, in 1984 and pulled in $700,000 worth of sales in the first year.

The retailer thrived through the early 2000s, eventually peaking in 2015 when its founders were worth a record high of $5.9 billion combined, Forbes reported.

Today, reports of messy stores and empty displays combined with store closures in major markets have put the company behind some of its fast-fashion competitors. Forbes estimates that the cofounders are no longer billionaires.

On Thursday, Forever 21 denied to Business Insider that it had imminent plans for bankruptcy, despite reports.

"Our stores are open and it is our intention to continue to operate the vast majority of U.S. stores, as well as a smaller amount of international stores, providing customers with great service and the curated assortment of merchandise that they love and expect from Forever 21. Please visit our store locator to find the most up to date store list," the company said in a statement on Thursday.

Here's the story of the company, from its quick rise to global prominence to its slow downfall into uncertainty.

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