Simon and Brookfield bought Forever 21 for $81 million—a short-term solution for mall owners to keep fast-fashion shoppers and avoid more vacancies.

WHAT HAPPENED: Forever 21 filed for bankruptcy in September and was bought by its landlords and Authentic Brands in February 2020.

WHY IT MATTERS

  • Buying Forever 21 is a short-term solution that won’t solve the mall’s deep-rooted problems. If Forever 21 stopped operating it would leave hundreds of vacancies for mall landlords—it already closed 100 stores upon filing for bankruptcy with 800 currently left open. Yet rescuing a struggling, fast-fashion retailer won’t save malls in the long-term. While the cost of buying the brand is low, especially relative to its billions of dollars in sales, mall owners should instead be investing in stable solutions that will transform the traditional mall to match modern consumer’s desires and needs.
  • Forever 21 should seek buyers that will help the fast-fashion retailer repair its image and reinstate itself as a viable brand. Reopening stores in the same mall locations or working to keep its struggling stores open doesn’t reposition Forever 21 for the future. The brand says it got in this predicament because of over-expansion and an uninspired digital presence, but its brand ethos and lack of sustainability are bigger issues. The chance that mall landlords can sheppard this shift is lower than if a more brand-driven company was in the driver’s seat.