Seeing Red

by Katie Lee

Forever 21 sees great potential in its new store concept, F21 RED, which plans to double its store count in 2016.

Interview By Katie Lee

In December 2015, Forever 21 opened three new F21 RED stores in Brooklyn, New York; San Diego; and Kendall, Florida. The new concept had launched a year earlier, in 2014, and is designed to offer on-trend staples for women, men and kids at entry-level price points. Today the concept has more than 30 stores with 40 new stores slated for 2016. Linda Chang, vice president of merchandising, recently commented on the company’s big plans for its new concept.

R&R: How many stores does Forever 21 operate total, among all its brands? How many F21 RED stores are there today?

linda changLinda Chang: Forever 21 operates in more than 730 stores across 48 countries with stores in the United States, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Israel, Japan, Korea, Latin America, Mexico, Philippines and United Kingdom. F21 RED operates in the United States with more than 30 stores to date.

R&R: How long has Forever 21 been doing business?

Chang: Forever 21 has been operating for 31 years; the first store launched on Figueroa Street in Los Angeles on April 21, 1984.

R&R: How many new F21 RED stores are planned in 2016?

Chang: Forever 21 is very selective in choosing a new location for any store. We are thrilled to continue expanding F21 RED throughout the U.S. with approximately 40 stores slated for 2016. We will share our next opening dates as they get confirmed.

R&R: How did the F21 RED concept come about? Founded in 2014, correct, and known for entry-level price points…

forever21 DSC4418Chang: We noticed that many of our customers were asking for a wider selection of our staple items and felt that the time was right to offer deeper inventory of options. The F21 RED concept was intended to create an easy shopping experience for the entire family with an assortment of fashion basics from each of the Forever 21 lines.

R&R: What, besides price, differentiates it from Forever 21? How do you keep them from competing with each other?

Chang: As we mentioned, the concept is intended to create an easy shopping experience for the entire family. With a revised store design and a big focus on product assortment, F21 RED carries fashion staples from Forever 21, Forever 21 Men, Forever 21 Plus and Forever 21 Kids. The concept is more family-friendly and a better fit for shopping centers that serve as an alternative to traditional enclosed malls.

R&R: Like Forever 21, are F21 RED stores primarily mall-based? Lifestyle centers? Any freestanding locations?

forever21 DSC 3004Chang: F21 RED stores can be found in a variety of shopping platforms including power centers, lifestyle centers, malls and freestanding locations.

R&R: Please describe your typical prototype for Forever 21 versus F21 RED, including average square footage.

Chang: F21 RED was created with convenience in mind. With an average square footage of 16,000, F21 RED stores are merchandised by category. This allows our customers to quickly create outfits or supplement their existing wardrobe in an efficient way. We know that our customers have limited time to shop, so we have designed the stores to suit their busy schedules. In-store graphics speak to lifestyle and trend as our fast-fashion roots still hold true in F21 RED. We use the color red in strong architectural ways to reinforce our brand identity while keeping the focus on our impressive merchandise assortment and product mix.

Additionally, each store will consistently range from 10,000 to 20,000 square feet, with Forever 21 stores ranging from 4,000 to 100,000 square feet.

PAGE 13 300dpiR&R: Are any existing Forever 21 stores being converted to F21 RED stores?

Chang: Yes, a few of our existing F21 RED locations were Forever 21 stores, and we will continue to convert select locations to F21 RED. Stay tuned!


—   This article originally appeared as the March 2016 cover story of Retail & Restaurant Facility Busines magazine. To subscribe, click here. Contact the editor at [email protected].


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