Forever 21 is relaunching in Japan as high-end apparel

Forever 21, which ushered in the fast fashion movement by selling trendy, trendy clothes to teenagers at bargain-basement prices, is relaunching in Japan with a quiet rebrand as high-end clothing.

About 80 percent of Forever 21’s new collection, which will be released Tuesday in the fashion-mad nation through online sales and a pop-up shop in central Tokyo, will be designed by local partner Adastria Co., Japan’s third-largest clothing maker. .

Forever 21 typically targets teenagers and young adults, but is aiming for a broader, upscale clientele in Japan, hoping to lure women in their 30s. The brand, known for items such as label t-shirts, neon tees and denim shorts, will tailor the products to the country market.

“Our goal is to localize the brand by size, color and design,” Atsushi Sugita, head of licensing at Adastria, which oversees Forever 21 in the country, told Bloomberg in an interview. “The goal is to create a long-lasting brand. Most of the original stuff doesn’t fit the Japanese market.”

Adastria wants to open about a dozen brick-and-mortar stores in Japan and aims to generate ¥10 billion in revenue within five years, Sugita said, with 60 percent of sales coming online. An average item sold in Japan will cost around ¥4,000 ($30).

Forever’s 21 stores in Japan typically sold between 800 and 1,000 items before the chain exited the market in 2019. Adastria has streamlined the number of products currently available in the country from 120 to 150, and physical stores will be smaller. He added that the quality of materials used has improved.

Japan’s move comes as fast-fashion giant Shane puts pressure on traditional brands including Forever 21 and H&M, and the industry’s sustainability is in the spotlight. Adastria is interested in expanding Forever 21 to other Asian markets, Sugita said, adding that expanding an already widely recognized brand is faster than starting from scratch.

Forever 21 was founded in Los Angeles in the 1980s and grew rapidly in the 2000s with the global growth of fast fashion. It filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2019, reeling from maintenance of its large brick-and-mortar stores, poor inventory management and losses in some international markets. The company was then purchased by a consortium led by Simon Property Group Brookfield Property Partners LP and Authentic Brand Group LLC.

The relaunch is being overseen by Adastria with Itochu Corp., a Japanese trading company that bought Forever 21’s trading rights in Japan in September.

By Grace Huang and Kanoko Matsuyama

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