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After dipping its toe in the designer waters in August with a T-shirt collection by Brian Lichtenberg, Forever 21 is taking the plunge.

This story first appeared in the February 8, 2011 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

A collection designed by Petro Zillia bowed last week, while another by Rory Beca will be unveiled on March 4; both lines will be sold in the retailer’s 250 stores.

Linda Chang, who oversees marketing and is the daughter of Forever 21 founder Don Chang, said Petro Zillia’s raucous, colorful style and Rory Beca’s laid-back, sophisticated aesthetic, appealed to the retailer. While Petro Zillia is closing its store on Third Street in Los Angeles, the brand’s crochet mini skirts, flirty blouses and metallic bronze polyester-Spandex lamé tops, will have a home, albeit temporary, at Forever 21.

“We like Petro Zillia’s authenticity and identifiable L.A. style,” Chang said.

Meanwhile, Rory Beca, another L.A.-bred brand, is known for designer Rory Edelman’s signature caftans, feminine LBDs with lace sleeves and her use of vintage fabrics and trims.

“They both have a great energy to them but are very different,” said Chang.

“This is sort of new for us,” Chang said of the collaborations. “We want to be able to keep fresh new designs in our stores so that our customers want more and different things. We’re not really concerned with the financial impact [of the partnerships]. Our mind-set wasn’t that they’d be profit generators. We always like to be on top of trends, and collaborations are a trend in the industry.”

Edelman and Petro Zillia’s Nony Tochterman were impressed with Forever 21’s sourcing prowess. “I don’t think I could wholesale my [core] collection for what they’re retailing this for,” said Tochterman. “We have a synergy. They’re not afraid of colors or of being fun.”

The Petro Zillia and Rory Beca collections for Forever 21 will be priced from $5.80 to $32.80. In contrast, an animal print strapless spandex metallic dress with a bow detail in Petro Zillia’s core collection is $120 and an Aztec-inspired silk-chiffon top, $148. Rory Beca’s La Boca faux wrap silk romper is priced at $152 and the Sofia lace blazer, $143.

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