Fast-fashion giant Forever 21 has filed for bankruptcy, reported The New York Times. It's an unsurprising move that industry watchers saw coming. The company will shutter hundreds of stores as part of its Chapter 11 filing, renegotiate rent on existing retail spaces, and will restructure the company in an attempt to maintain solvency. The move is also expected to affect Riley Rose, Forever 21's beauty retail venture, and its lower-priced brand F21 Red.

How did this happen? It's the same retail story as the late American Apparel — the company expanded too quickly to sustain itself, and shoppers aren't connecting with the brand.

In a statement, Forever 21 insists that it is "NOT going out of business."

"Today, Forever 21, Inc. voluntarily filed for bankruptcy protection under chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code," the company announced via a statement on its website. Addressing many customers' immediate concerns, Forever 21 insists that, at its remaining stores, "it will continue to feel like a normal day  ...  gift cards will continue to be accepted, and our policies, including returns and exchanges, remain the same."

Forever 21 also said that a "significant number" of stores will remain open, but that decisions about which "domestic stores will be closing are ongoing."

The company is going to close 178 stores in the United States alone.

The company is expected to shutter 178 stores around the country. For stores that will remain open, Forever 21 is attempting to renegotiate lease prices on the buildings housing its stores. Many of its stores operate at least two floors.

According to the Times, liquidation sales may kick off around October 31, though many stores are slashing prices right now. On Forever 21's Instagram, the brand announced in-store sales starting at $1 for home and accessories and $5 for clothing and shoes.


Forever 21 will also close up to 350 international stores worldwide.

Canada, Japan, and another 40 countries are losing Forever 21 stores entirely, reported the Times. Additionally, Yahoo Finance reported that Forever 21 is closing stores in Europe and Asia. In the United Kingdom, the London store on Oxford Street is the only location that is expected to stay open.

The company's executive vice president, Linda Chang, acknowledged the shifting changes in consumer tastes and spending habits.

Like American Apparel, the company is a victim of aggressive expansion. "We went from seven countries to 47 countries within a less-than-six-year time frame and with that came a lot of complexity," Chang told the Times. As a result, multistory Forever 21 stores have become albatrosses for the company; the Times also mentions that its flagship four-story Times Square store is "in discussions with the landlord of that store about its future."


There's also a noted shift toward sustainable secondhand shopping.

Forever 21 has also been hit by the rise in resale and consignment shopping among millennials and Gen Z, who are more likely to use sites like Depop and Poshmark to shop for clothing, citing sustainability. Additionally, the shifts to fast-fashion online shopping have brought less traffic into Forever 21 stores, as consumers spend at retailers like Fashion Nova

It's a difficulty that Chang acknowledged. "...There has been a softening of mall traffic, and sales are shifting more to online  ...  You hear a lot of conversations about the rental market or the resale market and things like that, so I think there are definitely shifts there that are happening," she told the Times.