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Goodbye Forever 21, You Will Be Missed

Last Sunday, the weather was overcast, cold, and somewhat snowy. Usually, this forecast would make me want to curl up under the covers and watch a movie. But on this particular Sunday, a pre-scheduled coffee date with my friend Aura forced me to get out of bed. So, instead of hibernating, I walked with Aura to Trident Café on Newbury Street. We had a lovely afternoon chatting at a table by the window and watching the delicate flurries melt before they hit the ground.  

At some point, our attention drifted past the snow and focused on the Forever 21 store across the street from us. The trendy mannequins that were usually on display in the store had been replaced with signs that read “Going out of Business Sale.” We knew that Forever 21 declared bankruptcy, but we were shocked to see that stores were already closing. It seemed unbelievable that this huge brand was shutting its doors for good. So after we finished our coffees, we ventured across the street to go inside Forever 21, one last time. 

Photo Credit: The Huntington News; Photo Caption: The Forever 21 Location on Newbury Street

The inside of the store was worse than either of us anticipated. The shelves of oh-so-cute accessories were empty. The large displays of cosmetics were picked clean. Even the wall-to-wall racks of teen fashion had been reduced to a few forgotten sale items. The last time I went to Forever 21, I had to wait in line for 45 minutes just to get a fitting room. Now, the only lines in the store were the lines of bargain bins filled with unsold merchandise. Aura vocalized my feelings perfectly when she asked: “What happened to this place?”

I’ll admit, the fall of Forever 21 wasn’t entirely surprising. The edgy designs that popularized the brand have become more cookie-cutter, and the garments themselves aren’t as well-made as they used to be. On top of all that, their fast fashion manufacturing is harmful to the environment and it exploits the underpaid workers who make the garments overseas. When consumers (including yours truly) learned about the downsides of fast fashion, they stopped shopping at Forever 21. But despite Forever 21’s appropriate end, the empty store was still almost too depressing to look at.  

As I stood in what remained of the iconic teen fashion retailer, I looked back on all the time I spent inside Forever 21 throughout my life. I quickly realized that Forever 21 was more than just a store; it was a friend who guided me through all my awkward teen years.

It all started when I was twelve when my mom started letting me hang out at the mall with my friends. Every Saturday for almost all of middle school, my three best friends and I would meet up inside the Forever 21 at the mall and spend the day failing to look like the cool teenagers we thought we were. Later, during my freshman year of high school, I shopped for my first Christmas formal dress there. I vividly remember standing in the fitting room, desperately hoping that my date would fall in love with me at the dance. Spoiler alert: neither of us fell in love, but we’re still good friends. On the last days of school, when I was finally free from my Catholic school uniform, I would go to Forever 21 with my sister to shop for trendy summer outfits. When I got my first job, I remember spending part of my first paycheck on a denim jacket at Forever 21. 

Through all the good, the bad, and the messiest days of my awkward years, Forever 21 was there for me. It was a place for me to laugh with my friends and it provided about 50 percent of my wardrobe. I honestly don’t think I could have survived puberty without the clothes that filled their iconic yellow bags.

Photo Credit: The New York Times

When we finally left the store, I couldn’t help but feel a twinge of sadness. Forever 21 used to be important to me. Watching it go out of business felt like saying goodbye to a part of my childhood. Sure, I have stopped shopping there and my tastes have changed, but no brand can ever replace the store that I grew up shopping in.

The sign in front of the building may change, but my memories won’t. So, thank you Forever 21. Although it is probably for the best that you are closing, I will always remember you as my favorite store. 

 

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Hey there! I am a junior at Boston University in the College of Communications. I love photography, crossing off bucket list adventures, hanging with friends, and following yoga videos at home.
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