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?

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  1. This is an interesting topic, and rip offs seem to be happening all the time which is awful. I think the problem is that a lot of the big brands buy the designs off designers without properly looking into whether that designer actually owned that design and had the right to sell it. There have been a few similar cases in the UK, and the high street stores have simply passed the buck and blamed the designer they bought it off rather than taking the blame themselves.

    I buy a lot of my clothes on the highstreet and I think high street stores have a lot to offer, but I do think they need to take more responsibility for their products and where they come from.

  2. You wrote a lot of interesting things in your post. I totally agree with you and I guess a lot of people must think how spend their money in a right way!!!
    Hope you understand my bad english ;)

  3. I am avid Forever 21 shopper. However, in recent months I've kind of backed off because of this reason and it seems to get more severe as time goes on. It's one thing to create a copycat (like Target's Mossimo Messenger Bag to Proenza Schouler's PS1 Bag) but it's another to steal someone's design and strip it of it's integrity.

    After this story, I don't think that I'll be return to Forever 21. At least I'll try my best for Christie's sake.

    Thank goodness for Target, H&M, Topshop and Zara doing things the right way :)

  4. @Harriest- I wondered what it was like in the UK since I know they have their own versions of F21.

    @Federica- Thanks for checking out my blog! I'm glad you agree ;)

    @Mattie- Thanks for checking out my blog! Aww that makes me so happy to hear :)

  5. I have never heard about it, it probably shows I dont know much about topic. But this definitely does not sound ethic. Fortunately I dont have this problem, they simply does not sell F21 here.


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