Forever 21‘s recently launched maternity line has currently come under fire. It seems parents, teenagers and some media believe this affordable line of maternity wear is being targeted to teenagers.
Forever 21 responded on their twitter account with this statement:
Forever 21 has currently launched the line online and in stores in five states: Alaska, Utah, California, Arizona and Texas. The bloggers over at The Gloss reported that three of the states, Arizona, California and Texas, have the highest rates of pregnancy in the United States.
The Gloss (appropriate name) glossed over the not-so-insignificant detail of using decade old data from the year 2000.
According to a report from January 2010 by Guttmacher Institute*, teenage birth rates have dropped in every state since the 2000 report.
According to this report, Arizona and Texas are ranked as #3 and #4, respectively, as the states with the highest pregnancy rates.
But California fell to #15. That doesn’t match the argument from the original article. (For reference, Alaska is #31 and Utah is #45.)
So where does that leave the argument? Forever 21 is loved and hated for being “fast-food fashion,” offering new styles nearly everyday, often borrowing straight from runways with dollar-bin prices.
Before the maternity was launched, Forever 21 also launched Love 21 (contemporary line), Twelve by Twelve (LA couture inspired), Heritage 1981 (vintage inspired), Faith 21 (plus size), 21 Men (men’s line) and HTG81(children’s line). It seems as though Forever 21 is just continuing the expansion into other markets. They already make clothing and accessories for tweens, teens, adults, men, kids and plus sizes, so why not maternity?
Mom-to-be Kari J. isn’t sold on the maternity line. “Meh, I’ve seen better, honestly. The clothes just look plain and baggy and not flattering at all… Their line seems a little boring for F21. Ugh.. the colors! Seriously!” Currently, Kari hasn’t purchased anything from the line, and doesn’t plan to unless they start “selling dresses, skirts and anything flattering.”
Kari also doesn’t agree with the controversy, “like it or not, teens have sex and GASP babies! …right now it looks like they are trying to break into a lucrative market they know nothing about.”
Even bloggers from two of the states that carry the maternity line in stores don’t agree with the controversy.
Angeline E. from California says, “I’m not sure I see what the big deal is. A huge portion of their customers are in their 20s-30s. [The maternity line] is no worse than all those MTV shows about being 16 and pregnant.”
Mom-to-be Indiana Adams from Texas says, “I first heard about this “controversy” over on Perez Hilton‘s fashion gossip spin-off site CoCoPerez.com, and I’ve since read a couple other articles wondering if Forever 21 is glamorizing teenage motherhood by coming out with a maternity line. I think these claims are a little off base. The maternity line is a part of Forever 21‘s contemporary line “Love 21**” which is marketed toward an older audience.
To me, it’s quite obvious when you look at the models used on the Love 21 section of the website. While the models are still youthful, it’s apparent that the company intentionally chose slightly older models for the Love 21 section versus the very young-looking models they choose for the Forever 21 section.
Additionally, Forever 21 makes a wonderful line of plus sized clothing under their Faith 21 line. No one is accusing Forever 21 of encouraging teenage obesity, are they? No, because that’s ridiculous. Forever 21 is simply taking their fashion concepts and making them marketable to subsets of women who fall outside the norm of their original, intended audience. I, for one, applaud their efforts.”
Indiana was very excited when she heard about the line, “thanks to one of my blog readers who tweeted me the link, I saw the new maternity line online the day it launched. I instantly loved it. The prices are unbeatable, the fashion is functional, and I thought to myself, ‘Finally! Maternity clothes in my price point, meant for someone like me!’ For the record, I am a 30-year-old, married woman, who is six months pregnant. I have a fashion blog, but I consider myself to be a conservative dresser. I do shop at Forever 21 a regular basis.”
Indiana hasn’t purchased anything from the line yet, but plans to purchase a pair of the maternity jeans in the next few weeks.
So what can we infer about the maternity line? Is it a marketing ploy, as The Gloss put it? Or an attempt to branch out into a new market they know nothing about? Or is it neither of those two, and is Forever 21 just trying to see if a maternity line can sell?
What do you think?