Is the controversy surrounding Forever 21’s maternity inaccurate?

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, 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?

*Please note- Guttmacher Institute also complied the information used by The Gloss in their article, and this updated report was quickly and easily obtained with a quick online search.
** The maternity line was launched under the Love 21 umbrella, which, according to Forever 21, is described as their contemporary line “with more focus on fabrication and trims, and a more sophisticated feel.”

30 thoughts on “Is the controversy surrounding Forever 21’s maternity inaccurate?

    • Thanks!
      It actually come out of a conversation my husband and I had about him not agreeing with my shopping there, so I turned it into an article!

      • Suze, why does your husband not agree with you shopping there? Does he have a personal issue or is it just the fact that you spend so much money when you go in there? 🙂

        • LOL!
          We were discussing the controversy, and he doesn’t like that F21 is now selling maternity clothes, and said that he didn’t want me to shop there. We talked about it, and I wrote this article and made him read it. Once I explained all the other markets F21 has already sold in, he said it made more sense for F21 to sell maternity wear, since they already make and sell clothing for men, women, kids and teens.

          Now, I’m sure he’s worried about how much money/stuff I buy there. It’s so easy to spend $40 and walk out with a huge bag of stuff!

  1. This is an interesting issue – seriously this really is a big issue about nothing. Forever 21 isn’t just for teenagers – I know many grown women (most of the fashion bloggers I follow) who wear F21 clothes because they are an inexpensive way to try out trends from the runway. There are those that argue against “fast food fashion” but I for one love it because I am on a tight budget but I want to look cute, and there’s nothing wrong with that. And I’m pretty sure there are many pregnant women grateful for the fact that they have access to cute, fun clothes made to fit their shape and their not relegated to wearing muu muu’s for 9 months. Pregnant women should be allowed to be trendy! Besides, teens having sex and getting pregnant has nothing to do with what clothes they buy or vice versa, it’s so much more complicated than that. It’s like saying that the lyrics in heavy metal/punk songs make people go out and commit crimes and join cults and stuff. It’s another way for people to NOT take responsibility for their own actions and choices. It’s just fashion, get over it people!

    • Well said!

      I shop at Forever 21 because I am also on a budget. It’s a great store to get fun, quirky pieces that won’t always be in style, without spending an arm and a leg.
      I think their expansion into the maternity market just follows the line of what other markets they’ve gone into. It would be one thing if they only made teen/adult wear, then expanded into maternity, but they didn’t. They went into all the other markets before maternity.
      It’s just another example of people getting upset over nothing.

      • Yeah exactly. Lots of other chain stores have mat lines anyway, like H&M (I actually have a top from there that is Maternity, even though I’ve never actually been pregnant! lol. I didn’t realize it was mat until I tried it on) so why is it so bad when F21 does it? It’s totally a marketing thing and actually a pretty smart marketing move on their part when it comes right down to it.

        • Totally! And like Kari pointed out, they need to expand the line and add some dress, skirts and cuter tops. I think they’ve had more items, but must’ve sold out!

  2. i cant imagine Forever21 (or any of their subsidiaries) creating any item of clothing so amazing that children are going to go get themselves knocked up just to wear it. unless that article of clothing somehow creates another immaculate conception. then THAT would be pretty darned amazing.

    • LOL!
      But that is basically what these other articles (even CBS and CNN) are saying! They’re basically blaming teen pregnancy on this cheap line of clothes.

      I do not have children, nor am I pregnant, but I cannot imagine purchasing hundreds of dollars worth of new clothes for the nine months or so my body will be in that state. F21 is just offering a cheap option! LOL

  3. Here’s what I think is so interesting: Forever 21 is owned by an ulta-Christian man. Don’t believe me? Check the bottom of your bag the next time you shop there. (or Google “Forever 21 Bag” Wouldn’t someone who spreads the word of the bible be opposed to premarital sex (firstly) and teenage pregnancy (secondly)?! Obviously, the entire story is the result of a VERY. SLOW. NEWS. DAY at The Gloss.

  4. Excellent post! How is Love 21 Maternity any worse than the almost soft-core shots American Apparel pushes using very young models, or the Abercrombie & Fitch ad scandals? Are those images appropriate for the store demographic?

    To bitch about a maternity line in Forever 21 is idiotic because no matter who is buying, the store name is Forever 21, not Forever 15. So, literally-interpreted, the intended audience is a young woman of 21. Which is old enough to drive, vote, drink, get married, have a baby, whatever.

    People need to get a life. How about educating girls about how NOT to get pregnant instead of worrying about clothing options once they do.

    I’m sure you know this has IFB written all over it.

    ♥ V

    • And PS: F21 is a clothing store. Not a church. Not a school. It doesn’t matter who owns it. The whole point is to SELL CLOTHES EOPLE WANT, not preach to the masses.

    • Thanks! I’ve always thought the photos at A&F were slightly innappropriate for the demographic they’re aiming for.

      I’l also always had issues with the way America teaches sex ed. They pretty much only teach abstinence only, which doesn’t work. Rather than teach kids, who will have sex anyway, how to protect themselves, we’re instead blaming a clothing store?!

      I’m planning to add it to the queue for LALM 🙂

  5. I don’t really see why this has to be so controversial… Forever 21 isn’t really a shop just for teens or younger people. I’ve never considered F21 a teens shop since they have different collections for different ages. The company grows so it’s natural to add up more collections and now they add up something for pregnant women which I think they should’ve done long before since they provide clothing for different women.

    Sigh… Some people I think are just a bit narrow minded.

  6. When I look at the Love21 line I always see more mature clothing, as in, business-y, rather than teenage looks. Even the models are older than the Forever21 models.
    So adding a maternity line to Love21 makes sense.

    So pretty much what Indiana Adams said. I agree!

  7. I can’t imagine a teenager will see a cute maternity shirt and immediately think “oooh I like this! I think I will get pregnant so I can wear it!”

    It just seems like good business sense to offer a variety of sizes (in this case, maternity!) to attract a wide (no pun intended) range of clientele.

    just a thought 🙂

  8. Forever 21 gets so much hate already, why not find something new to tear apart?

    I think a maternity line from them is great – cheap clothes for a time in your life when you only need them for a few months. It makes perfect sense.

    • I think people like to hate what’s already down. It’s like the high school mentality of everyone picking on/hating the same kid. There is no reason to always be mean to that person- they get it from everyone else, but it’s the “normal” thing to do!

  9. This is fascinating, Suze. My opinion? Forever 21 is just trying to make money by targeting a new niche of women looking for trendy clothing that’s available at an accessible price point. I think it’s a great move, per Indiana’s post. But in the end everyone has got something they want to gripe about! Thanks for the thoughtful post.

  10. Gee! I missed all the drama. I’m a mom-to-be blogger as well and I was excited about the possibility of cheaper maternity fashion, but I never made the teen pregnancy connection. This is a really great post. Thanks Suze

    • That’s how I looked at the line! It’s affordable. You’re not pregnant for the rest of your life. You’re pregnant for 9 months! 🙂

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