Cintra Wilson on the New Forever 21 in Times Square

28Jun10

South Korean clothing chain Forever 21 opened a colossal new megastore — four stories, 91,257 square feet, and 121 dressing rooms — on Friday amid great hype and circumstance. It’s now the largest retail venue in Manhattan devoted to a single brand. And like the rest of Times Square, it’s raw-capitalism-as-spectacle-a-go-go, with big plasma screens and shimmering walls and cash registers cranking until 2 a.m., seven days a week.

Reduced to its essential nature, Forever 21 is an Americanized version of Topshop, the British chain that makes a killing with designer knockoffs. Forever 21 refines this business plan into an even more lethal form of consumer crack: It makes knockoffs of Topshop knockoffs, and sells them even cheaper.

Like Topshop, many of the wares — look-specific, clumsily wrought, disposable kinder-slutwear — hearken back to the Flashdance era. But the prices are even lower than they were in 1983 — so low, in fact, they seem wrong. Your brain can’t help but factor in the invisible stuff: “Oh dear, surely there is a basement of horrors in some far-off land that makes these $4.50 stretch-capri leggings possible … ” But then your eye gets caught by another shiny gold lamé headband, and you end up carrying around half a dozen hangers’ worth of V-neck T-shirts just because they’re priced at a mind-boggling $2.50 apiece.

via Cintra Wilson on the New Forever 21 in Times Square — The Cut.

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