Fast fashion? Try fast trashin’

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Fast-fashion pioneer Forever 21 is closing its doors in Canada, and I say good riddance.

The Los Angeles-based retailer filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in late September, closing many of its stores across Europe and Asia. Forever 21 issued a statement that it would be retreating back into the U.S. to reconsider and refocus its brand image.

If you’ve ever shopped at a Forever 21 store, you’ll know it’s an overwhelming experience: clothes wall-to-wall, stuffed clearance racks, jackets with tacky slogans on the back. The stores take up valuable real estate at shopping malls, with some reaching 20,000 square feet (1860 sq. m)—that’s bigger than a hockey rink. 

I’d liken shopping at Forever 21 to reading a textbook without pictures or diagrams to break it up. There might be some interesting information in there, but it’s not worth rooting through such a large volume of words.

The clothes might be inexpensive, but that doesn’t add up to much because the quality of Forever 21’s wares means they won’t stay in your closet for long. As such, Forever 21 also takes up valuable real estate in landfills. While competitors Abercrombie & Fitch and Zara have upped the quality of their products, Forever 21 has stuck to its dirt-cheap guns and paid sorely for it. Also, the increasing popularity of online shopping is rendering brick-and-mortar retail obsolete.

The World Wildlife Fund estimates that 20,000 litres of water goes into producing the equivalent of a single cotton T-shirt and a pair of jeans. When you put that in a landfill, all that water goes down the drain with it.

Shoppers are tired of wearing something that’s cute one week and a dud the next, or breaking a zipper the second time they use it. Let Forever 21’s departure serve as a warning to retailers everywhere: consumers value quality over quantity.

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