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SHANGHAI, June 15 (Reuters) – U.S. fast fashion retailer Forever 21 is making its third foray into the Chinese market, with plans to open a physical store in the country later this month.
The brand said on social media platform WeChat that it would open a store “in June” at the Jingjiang Impression City shopping mall in Taizhou, a third-tier city in the eastern province of Jiangsu, neighboring Shanghai.
Chinese online mapping apps show that a Forever 21 store is under construction in the mall.
Forever 21 did not immediately respond to a request from Reuters for more information on the opening.
The youth-focused fast fashion retailer quietly re-entered the Chinese market last August, first selling exclusively online through platforms such as Vipshop and Pinduoduo (PDD.O), then opening a store in China’s Tmall marketplace. Alibaba (9988.HK).
More recently, Forever 21 has started making more noise on social media, with an online campaign to advertise its offerings as part of the “618” festival, China’s main mid-year online retail event. Read more
The brand entered the Chinese market in 2008, before leaving a year later.
Its second run in the growing Chinese fashion market began in 2011. Forever 21 had a network of 11 physical stores across the country – including flagship outlets in Shanghai and Beijing – which lasted until 2019, a year in which it left several markets, including China, and filed for bankruptcy.
Forever 21 was acquired by Authentic Brands Group (ABG) in 2020. ABG signed a license agreement with Lasonic Electric Xusheng Co. Ltd. of Hong Kong and its subsidiary, Xusheng Electrical (Shenzhen) Co. Ltd., to manage Forever 21’s operations in China.
This third attempt at the Chinese market comes at a time when the country’s fashion market has become one of the largest in the world.
Gaining and retaining market share, however, remains a difficult task for foreign mass-market fashion brands in China. Some, including H&M (HMb.ST), have been plagued by controversy while others, including major sportswear companies Nike (NKE.N) and Adidas (ADSGn.DE) have lost ground to local brands Li Ning (2331.HK) and Anta. (2020.HK) in recent years.
“Clearly there has been some shift in fast fashion towards nimble domestic fashion brands, so it’s harder now for international fast fashion to compete here than in the past,” said Ben Cavender, managing director of the China Market Research Group. .
“It will be difficult to reclaim market share as most Chinese consumers have never heard of the brand or don’t really know what it stands for.”
Reporting by Casey Hall; Editing by David Clarke
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