The outside of a Forever 21 in a mall. The store is on track to file for bankruptcy within the next year. MIKE MOZART/FLICKR VIA CC BY 2.0

Popular teen clothing brand Forever 21 is on track to file for bankruptcy within the next year. Known for its loud patterns and trendy styles, fast fashion creates clothing that is made cheaply and quickly, typically catering towards teens and young adults.

In the midst of the world’s environmental crisis, it is important for consumers to develop good spending habits by knowing where their clothes are coming from, shopping at stores that promote a sustainable message and thrifting. Spending habits have changed, especially now that more stores are revolving their missions on sustainability and promoting eco-friendly brands. The harmful environmental impact of Forever 21 is too big to ignore, and it is one of the reasons why fast fashion companies should go out of business. 

According to Forbes, Forever 21 has experienced a decline of up to 25% in sales because of their inability to adapt to their consumers’ needs. They recently downsized most of their stores and closed some locations altogether. Spending habits have shifted dramatically in the last 20 years, with online shopping becoming more prevalent in the last five years because of its accessibility and wider variety of clothing. In addition to online shopping, thrifting and secondhand shopping have also increased in popularity over fast-fashion chains like Forever 21 and H&M.  

Most of the clothes that are manufactured by Forever 21 are of mediocre quality and contribute to the pollution in the environment. Forever 21 contributes to the waste in landfills since the clothes have a short lifespan, and are made of cheap fabrics to sell at cheap prices. An article published by Elite Daily states, “Americans alone toss out 82 pounds of textile waste per year. Not to mention, these textiles are mostly made of synthetic fibers, which are not biodegradable.”

As the fashion industry becomes more eco-friendly, Forever 21 is getting left behind since companies like H&M and American Eagle have implemented ways to recycle old clothes in exchange for discounts or store credit. Programs like these are a great way for clothes to be given a new life, instead of sitting in landfills where they contribute to greenhouse gas emissions.

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“I refuse to buy from stores that choose to dispose of their extra materials in a harmful fashion,” Milana Pla, a freshman psychology major, said. Pla likes how secondhand shopping is just “recycled old clothes that are way more unique than new clothes.” Adopting this approach to shopping is a much better alternative to buying clothes from Forever 21 and other fast fashion brands on the market. 

This sentiment rings true for brands like Reformation and Aritizia that have been slowly gaining popularity for being more environmentally conscious. Sustainable fashion is a better and more eco-friendly option.

Perhaps Forever 21 going bankrupt is a sign for both companies and consumers to think about how the fashion industry impacts the environment. It is important that consumers shop with a purpose. That is, shop at stores that promote sustainable practices. With the movement towards environmental preservation growing more and more every day, brands like Forever 21 are doing nothing to contribute towards sustainability. Being mindful of where you shop can have a lasting impact, even if you don’t directly see it. Forever 21 going out of business is a sign that sustainability should be a bigger focus for large and influential companies, otherwise they too will end up going bankrupt while smaller and more sustainable fashion brands will take over the industry.

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