Launch of "Forever 21" in UK
The popular American cheap and chic store is coming to the UK!
If you haven't yet heard of Forever 21, its an American store which is a cross between H&M and Urban Outfitters, with Primark prices. That means cheap, chic, fast fashion - wooo!
The store has a large amount of stock, with new pieces arriving daily, meaning we will never be without our latest fashion fix. Celeb fans of the store include Kim Kardashian, Lindsay Lohan and Kirsten Stewart. If it's good enough for the A-list....!
What I think will give this store an extra boost (in comparison to Primark) is that despite its low prices, it has been likened to Topshop- in that its well laid out, well lit, and well staffed. The store front looks bright and inviting:
As if Forever 21 didn't already have enough going in its favour, Yasmin Le Bon is fronting the launch. She debuted the collection at a special catwalk show in central London, (see video below) showcasing something for everyone; from sequinned minis perfect for night-time, to hippy-style crochet knits, all ideal for students on a style-conscious budget.
Here are some of their pieces from the lookbook:
Gorgeous pieces at ludicrously low prices - it sounds too good to be true, right?! So I thought to myself, there must be a reason they can have their prices so low? I did not come to my suprise when I couldn't find any information regarding their ethical policy on the website.
So I dug a little deeper, and was shocked when I read how one blogger described the factory conditions:
The factory is hot. You’re covered in sweat. You are on overtime for a ten-hour shift, but not getting any extra compensation. The most you’ve had to eat has been a measly half of a day-old sandwich and you haven’t had a bathroom break in the past seven hours. Your back hurts from being hunched over a worktable, your hands are cramping but you must continue the stitching. You steal a glance around, decide to take a one-minute break to stretch. Your supervisor happens to sees you, screams for you to continue working, threatening to physically abuse you if you do not.
Kind of makes you think twice at buying that £2 T-shirt, so you can throw it out after a few wears.
But then again, do we ever really know who has made our pieces, and what conditions they are working in? Even designer brands and expensive sportswear companies have been under scrutiny for exploiting cheap child labour. And Forever 21 have been making inroads to a more ethical policy, clinging onto the "green" trend by selling reusable bags and organic cotton. Furthermore, most of its products are now manufactured in the US, and the company asserts that it is now more conscious of maintaining good labor standards.
With the huge popularity of Primark in the UK, I can see Forever 21 being a huge hit, despite its ethical problems. Although they are currently only opening stores in Birmingham and Dublin, I expect it will become widespread very soon.
So yes, despite the ethical concerns, if one comes to Scotland, I probably will visit. I probably will buy. And I'll probably feel guilty about it.
But 100% truthfully, can you honestly say you wouldn't push the ethical issues to the back of your mind when purchasing a piece you love at a price you love even more? I think the success of Primark proves most people can't claim they make that conscious decision.
Perhaps its our responsibility to boycott these stores. Perhaps it the responsibility of the company to ensure a strict code of conduct. Perhaps we need the government to step in to fight against unethical policies.
Perhaps it's a bit of everything. But with current conditions - the recession, the fast turn around in fashion, the "instant gratification" society we now live in - it seems these cheap (but perhaps not so cheerful) stores will not be disappearing anytime soon.