5 Things to Hate About Forever 21
Written by Aurora Hinz, Edited by Allison Fern Clausis
The U.S. Department of Labor has cited Forever 21 multiple times, within consecutive years (2008 and onward). Not only do they have unsafe working conditions for workers in their U.S. retail stores, but “since 2008, the department has found about a dozen manufacturers that work with Forever 21 have sweatshop-like conditions (The Fashion Law, 2012).” The LA Times wrote that “the Department of Labor discovered labor violations at 85% of the factories it visited during that four-month period and ordered the suppliers to pay $1.3 million in back wages, lost overtime and damages (Kitroeff, Kim, 2017).” However, this was never enough to waiver the brand’s success.
Currently, there are and have been countless lawsuits against the brand for copying others’ designs, violating trademarks, and copyrights. The brand has been accused of stealing designs from indie brands and Etsy shop owners, to big brands like Gucci, Vetements, Puma, and Adidas (N.J., 2017). Just try Googling, “Forever 21 copying”, and you’ll notice that there are more than 5 million results that come up along with it!
In February of 2016, Mickael Louis, a former assistant store manager at Forever 21 cited racial and sexual discrimination. He claimed that other managers of the same Forever 21, “subjected him to ‘same-sex sexual harassment, [and] racist nicknames [such as “Nutella”] and ridicule,’ as well as making crude comments about the size of his genitals” (The Fashion Law, 2016).
In April of 2015, 22-year-old Alexia Daskalakis filed a lawsuit claiming that “the fast fashion giant's male supervisors insulted her and subjected her to bias because of her transgender identity” (The Fashion Law, 2015). This discrimination included her managers calling her, “a ‘hot mess,’ ‘useless,’ and ‘disgusting,’ told her that she looked ‘offensive,’ and that ‘in my eyes and in the company’s eyes, you’re still a male.’” On another occasion, one of the same managers told Daskalakis that “you used to be a hard worker when you were a guy, but not anymore” (The Fashion Law, 2015).
We’ve all seen the trendy and bold graphic tees with things written on them like, “Femme,” “Feminist,” “Girl Boss,” etc., but should a clothing company that oppresses and exploits labor from women really be profiting off of the feminist movement (Bills, 2014)? How can you really be pro-women when you are constantly ripping designs off other women, exploiting the labor of women, and even discriminating against them in the workplace? We won’t stand for the hypocrisy of fast fashion giants like Forever 21 any longer!
“Forever 21 prints John 3:16 on its shopping bags, reportedly keeps Bibles at company headquarters, and was founded by the deeply religious Do Won Chang and Jin Sook, who don't shy away from their faith. (McGregor, 2013).” Now, this verse word for word from the Bible is: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (Biblica, 2011)” The owner, Chang, explained in a CNN interview last year, that with this verse "[they] hoped others would learn of God's love” (McGregor, 2013). Many followers of the Christian faith have pointed out the hypocrisy of this scripture on the bag. One person points out that the greed that runs this company and allows it to remain harmful to all life, would NOT have been accepted by Jesus, and should not be accepted by his followers (posted on Forever 21’s facebook page).