Is Forever 21 Encouraging Teen Pregnancy?

Discussion
Jul 20, 2010
George Anderson

By George Anderson

Some are questioning whether Forever 21, a young women’s
fashion chain, is in some way encouraging teen pregnancy now that it has launched
its "Love
21 Maternity
" line of clothes.

The chain maintains that the line was created
for an older demographic than its teen customers.

Critics of the line, according
to the San Jose Mercury News, have said
that three of five states where the chain has introduced the line have teen
pregnancy rates well above the nation’s average. Statistics from Planned Parenthood
of America show only one of the states, Texas, being in the top five of teen
pregnancies.

Mitzi Sales, senior vice president for external affairs for Planned
Parenthood, told the Mercury News she thought it was "very, very
funny that cute maternity clothes might encourage anyone to become pregnant."

"I don’t think that’s why teens become pregnant," she said. "I
was surprised by how provocative some of the fashions looked … That’s where
the controversy would be, I think."

"We all know it’s not for teen pregnancy. In our minds it’s a little bit
ridiculous," Linda Chang, senior marketing manager for Forever 21, told
the Mercury News. "We’re hoping that the whole thing will blow
over."

Discussion Questions: Do you think Forever 21 is encouraging teen pregnancy
with a line of maternity wear? How would you respond to these concerns if you
were running Forever 21?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.

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19 Comments on "Is Forever 21 Encouraging Teen Pregnancy?"


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Peter Fader
Guest
10 years 9 months ago

Good thing it’s not called “Forever 16.” Or how about “Almost 21″….

Seriously, though, think about the aspirational aspects of the name “Forever 21”–it’s aimed at slightly older women who want to be young forever. The idea of feeling/looking young while expecting a baby is perfectly sensible.

This is a total non-issue–full speed ahead for Forever 21 with this new line.

David Morse
Guest
David Morse
10 years 9 months ago

I find it hard to believe that in today’s climate of media sensationalism that it ever entered into the minds of marketers at Forever 21 to encourage or even exploit teen pregnancy. Unless they are extremely jaded or savvy, I’m sure this kind of attention never crossed their minds. And anyone who really thinks that a teenager might consider getting pregnant just to sport a sexy piece of maternity wear needs to have his or her head examined.

Rochelle Newman-Carrasco
Guest
Rochelle Newman-Carrasco
10 years 9 months ago

While there will undoubtedly be some less than stable young women who will fantasize about being pregnant because of some cute fashion statement, they will be few and far between and Forever 21 shouldn’t be held responsible for the irrational behavior of an unbalanced few.

Yes, young women are easily influenced. Yes, fashion plays a big role in influencing young women–from eating disorders to “Lolita.” Nevertheless, the Forever 21 brand is definitely attracting an older audience (a whole few years over 20 something–and even some size 1 30 plus year olds as well.

Maternity clothes seem to be so dreadful (according to my currently pregnant friends) that it will most likely be a big hit and the teenage pregnancy rates will continue to be high–but not because of Forever 21.

Roger Saunders
Guest
10 years 9 months ago

“Gimme a break”…ridiculous premise on the part of some small minded person.

Forever 21 has a solid and growing 18 to 34 year old base of customers. This is far more than a group of 13 to 17 year olds walking/shopping this dynamo. Fashion, at a value, is not limited to jeans for the 18 to 34 year woman.

And, yes Matilda, they are interested in and are having babies.

Charles P. Walsh
Guest
Charles P. Walsh
10 years 9 months ago

Forever 21’s entry into maternity wear is definitely going to encourage teen pregnancy. As those teens enter the store and see these “must have” hot apparel items they will immediately begin to plan their pregnancy.

There are marketing precedents that support this supposition. When Johnson and Johnson began putting licensed characters on their Band-Aids, there was a wholesale increase in children injuring themselves intentionally so as to be able to wear their favorite cartoon character on their fingers and toes.

This type of marketing must be stopped, it can only lead to more anti-social behaviors!

Gene Hoffman
Guest
Gene Hoffman
10 years 9 months ago

A good retailer offers what will sell and pregnancy is pregnant with marketing possibilities. Women today have social freedom and biological sovereignty. It’s natural that they desire maternity whenever it suits their plans or libidos whether they are 21, or younger or older. I doubt that Forever 21 is a pregnancy catalyst. It seems a non issue.

Warren Thayer
Guest
10 years 9 months ago

Reminds me of the phobic absurdity that took hold when HBA (Health & Beauty AIDS) became HBC (Health & Beauty CARE). I’ll bet some of the same people are involved.

David Zahn
Guest
10 years 9 months ago

Encouraging teen pregnancy because they offer maternity clothing? About as much as Safeway is encouraging teen pregnancy because they sell diapers.

EVEN IF they were marketing to the pregnant teen, I would have no problem with it. She is pregnant, she needs/wants clothing that is fashionable, comfortable, affordable, etc.–why not do what you can to capture that market (given that it is reasonably large and may even be growing)? It is not encouraging, but is capitalizing on it.

This is a non-issue that Forever 21 will hopefully not have to address beyond tomorrow.

Bill Emerson
Guest
Bill Emerson
10 years 9 months ago

The real story here is how much attention is given to the wing-nuts in our society. Clearly some people with way too much free time on their hands.

Ed Rosenbaum
Guest
10 years 9 months ago

I do not for a minute think Forever 21 is encouraging teen pregnancy with their new line of maternity clothes. Come on folks, don’t you remember when you were younger? I am certain no one’s thoughts were on how good they will look in maternity clothing when they decide to explore life.

Gene Detroyer
Guest
10 years 9 months ago

Are we suggesting that young pregnant women should not have cute clothes to wear?

Or maybe we are suggesting that the only cute clothes that Forever 21 carries are for pregnant women?

Or maybe we should start rating clothes like we rate movies? Or better yet, restrict sales like with do with cigarettes?

Are those questions ridiculous? So is this discussion.

Bob Houk
Guest
Bob Houk
10 years 9 months ago

First, as several have noted, their current demographic reaches well beyond teens.

Second, as I understand it, Forever 21 is broadening beyond that current demographic, with larger stores and a wider range of merchandise. This would seem to be a part of that move.

Jonathan Marek
Guest
10 years 9 months ago

I saw some nice looking clothes in the window at Rochester the other day. Maybe they are encouraging me to gain 50 pounds?

Doug Fleener
Guest
10 years 9 months ago

And to think I thought it was raging hormones and social influences that lead to teen pregnancies.

While it is a total non-issue, Forever 21’s move into maternity clothes is getting a lot publicity. Nothing like a little controversy to drive sales.

Schubert Pereira
Guest
Schubert Pereira
10 years 9 months ago

The target customer is women who want to look and dress “younger” than their actual age. The company’s name virtually suggests it’s for ages above 21. Is the fuss about making this article newsworthy?

Craig Sundstrom
Guest
10 years 9 months ago

“I was surprised by how provocative some of the fashions looked…That’s where the controversy would be, I think.”

Word.

But just to be sure, I’m sure some clear-thinking legislator somewhere will want to require photo ID to enter the dept.

Bernice Hurst
Guest
10 years 9 months ago

We do occasionally notice ridiculous stories here on RW but I think this one takes the cake. Last time I looked, teen years ended when someone reached 20. Why a store targeting teenagers is called Forever 21 is beyond my simple mind but even for a minute thinking that a store of that name is encouraging teenagers to get pregnant just to buy their clothes is stretching waaaaayyyy too far. I don’t think the store should respond to the so-called concerns at all.

George Whalin
Guest
George Whalin
10 years 9 months ago

I agree with Peter Fader, this is non-issue.

Forever 21 is among the best and fastest growing retailers doing business with younger consumers today. Their new, larger stores are amazing. They are great looking; great merchandise and merchandising; great pricing; and more than enough associates on the floor to help customers. Who could ask for more?

Brian Kelly
Guest
10 years 9 months ago

13% think F21 will encourage teen pregnancy. (I would like to see the vote totals.)

Wow. I am stunned.

It must have been those maternity departments in downtown main street department stores that encouraged the Baby Boom.

Well it just proves what we like to say, “Retail ain’t for sissies!”

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