Forever 21 Debuts F21 Red Concept Store

Fast-fashion retail sharpens prices further with new nameplate.

LOS ANGELES — Fast-Fashion retailer Forever 21 today opened the doors to its new F21 Red store at Azalea Shopping Center in South Gate, Calif., ushering in a throng of shoppers — some of whom had been in line since 6 a.m.

The 18,000-square-foot store, located about 20 miles south of Los Angeles is a new concept for the retailer, which is hoping to target a value-driven consumer with its deeper selection of core items at even lower price points than it is known for providing.

The F21 Red store carries select pieces of Forever 21 apparel and accessories along with items from the retailer’s other brands, including 21MEN, Forever 21+, Forever 21 Girls, the Love & Beauty cosmetics line and the brand’s lingerie and shoe collections.

Shoppers zeroed in on sharply discounted items, such as camisoles for $1.80, tank tops at $3.80, denim starting at $7.80 and bikinis for $4.80. And by the first half hour of opening, the dressing room line snaked almost to the back of the store.

Forever 21 executives are banking on the draw of a steep discount and greater selection of product to fuel this new concept–the latest addition for the retailer, which operates over 600 stores in the United States, and has operations in Canada, China, Europe, Hong Kong, India, Israel, Japan, Korea, Latin America, Mexico, Philippines, South America and United Kingdom.

“What we were trying to do is to really look for an expression to the brand that celebrated value as opposed to just fashion,” said Jeffrey Gomez, vice president of retail for North America. “This is an opportunity to go where the customer is very value oriented and differentiate this store from the other Forever 21 stores. We give her a lot more product depth within specific styles as opposed to giving so much breadth and a small smattering of product.”

One such value-focused customer is Maricela Juarez of South Gate, who was the first customer in line and had queued up with her sister and other family members since 6 a.m. “I found out about it on Facebook,” said Juarez, who confessed that she did not know what the concept was about, but was motivated by the $10 gift card for the first 100 customers. “It’s the first Red store and they’re giving me the gift card.”

Among F21 Red’s neighbors at the recently opened Azalea Shopping Center in the working-class neighborhood of South Gate are Wal-Mart, Ross, Michaels and Ulta beauty. Many storefronts have not yet been filled at the outdoor shopping center, with palm trees still tied up and in their planters.

“We have a very strong consumer base here and we know that the consumer is very value oriented in this market,” said Gomez. “A regular Forever 21 works particularly well in the mall environment, but these outdoor centers are particularly well suited for something that’s a little differentiated.”

Gomez said the brand would be taking a wait-and-see approach before rolling out additional locations. “We’re just going to take it as it comes. We want to see what the customer response is going to be and what in particular works for us, and we’ll decide what it looks for after that.”