10 Reasons Why Boycotting Forever 21 Might Not Be Such A Bad Idea

We all love Forever 21 because its clothes are both stylish and cheap—it’s especially ideal for low income college students who want to keep up their shopping habits. However, it isn’t exactly the most ethical business, and there are unsatisfactory explanations as to why its clothes are so cheap. Here are 10 reasons why we may need to think twice about shopping at Forever 21.

1. In 2012, five former minimum-wage high school employees filed a class-action lawsuit claiming that the company failed to pay them for hours worked, forcing them to work off the clock and refusing lunch breaks.

2. According to the International Labor Rights Forum, Forever 21 did not join retailers like Gap Inc., Levi Strauss & Co., American Eagle Outfitters, and many other companies in deciding not to buy cotton from labor abusing Uzbekistan factories. (Perhaps because the company abuses its workers, too? Hmm…)

3. One factory worker in Los Angeles says she was paid 12 cents a piece to sew vests that sell for $13.80. (It doesn’t take much math to figure out her salary was well under federal minimum wage, because how many vests can a person really sew in an hour?) 

4. In 2012, the company was sued by the United States Department of Labor for ignoring a subpoena requesting information in regards to how much its suppliers pay East Asia and Latin American immigrant workers. The agency conducted 1,500 investigations; 93 percent of these factories were in violation.

5. The clothing chain was also sued by the Asian Pacific American Legal Center in 2001, which aided 19 Latino garment workers who said they routinely worked 10 to 12 hours a day for six or seven days a week with no overtime pay.

6. There’s a documentary titled Made in LA about the workers’ fight against Forever 21, which received an Emmy in 2008.

7. The clothing chain has faced more than 50 copyright lawsuits for stealing the work of designers. These designers include Gwen Stefani, Anna Sui, and Trovata. 

8. Writer Rachel Kane started a blog under the domain WTForever21.com voicing her opinion on the retailer’s clothes. As suspected, Forever 21 asked her to take the site down or she may face a lawsuit. (Shouldn’t you be worried about your own lawsuits, XXI?)

9. Back in 2011, the company had to cough up $1.03 million after the Center for Environmental Health discovered Forever 21 along with 25 other retailers were selling jewelry containing the toxic metal cadmium. (If you needed a reason to stop buying cheap jewelry, this is probably a good one.)

10. Just last week, Adobe sued Forever 21—a billion dollar company—for pirating Photoshop, Acrobat, and Illustrator, even after being contacted by Adobe about the infringement. Companies Autodesk and Corel also joined Adobe in the suit. (Why can’t Forever 21 just pay the monthly fee?)

It makes sense that cheap clothes would be a result of cheap labor, but it’s different when it’s a retail store in which you routinely shop. Maybe you will view that $10 dress a little differently now. Maybe not. Regardless, once you discover apparel workers and shoppers alike have been boycotting Forever 21 as early as 2001, there’s no longer a question as to why. 

Perhaps we should all take a little initiative, because the company doesn’t care about you, its workers, or the designers it’s stealing from. Forever 21 may be selling us cheap clothes but the business is pocketing a stifling and ridiculously illegal profit margin. 

XXI, I'm dissapointed in your company. A bible verse on the bottom of your bags doesn't give you the rite of passage to be unethical. #HCXO.