Fast fashion label Forever 21 is opening its first physical store this month in China under a partnership with Lasonic, as it tries to woo the nation’s consumers for the third time, WWD has learned.
The store, currently under construction according to local navigation provider Gaode, is located at a shopping mall in Taizhou, Jiangsu province. A three-hour drive from Shanghai, Taizhou is categorized as a third-tier city in China, meaning that it has a robust local population with decent spending power beneath that of the provincial capitals, which are considered second-tier cities.
Forever 21 was founded by Do Won Chang and his wife Jin Sook in 1994 and grew quickly by offering trendy fashions at low prices, but ultimately the company was unable to navigate its aggressive international expansion. It filed for bankruptcy and was purchased by SPARC, the venture between Authentic Brands Group, Simon Property Group and Brookfield, through that process for $81.1 million. It now operates 540 stores around the world.
After the acquisition, ABG signed a licensing agreement with Lasonic Limited Xusheng Co. Ltd. and its subsidiary, Xusheng Electrical (Shenzhen) Co. Ltd., to manage Forever 21’s operation within the Chinese market. Lasonic at the time revealed plans to reenter major e-commerce platforms and open physical stores across major cities in China.
Lasonic Limited is a Hong Kong-based electrical, electronics, and lighting products manufacturer. It also does business in intellectual property licensing, event planning, and merchandising.
The Forever 21 brand is now available on online marketplaces like Tmall, VIPshop, and Pinduoduo, as Lasonic promised. The bestselling item on Tmall so far is a pair of straight jeans, with six being sold.
Taizhou, however, is not a major city. In fact, the city is not far away from Changshu, where Forever 21 opened its first China store back in 2008. At the time the brand overestimated its popularity in China and left the market within a year.
The brand tried for a second time in 2011 with major flagships on the most expensive shopping streets in major cities including Beijing and Shanghai but had to leave the market in April 2019 due to stiff competition from global and local players, and missteps with its own expansion and digital strategies.
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