PASADENA, Calif. — Forever 21, the Los Angeles-based retailer of fashion-forward looks for less, has gone big in size and scope.

The 12-year-old company this month opened a 40,000-square-foot multiconcept store in the center of Pasadena’s historic district.

The two-level unit showcases Forever 21’s expanded women’s collection — including intimates and footwear — and integrates the company’s accessories concept, For Love 21, which launched last year.

“By virtue of the square footage, it’s a mini department store,” said Larry Meyer, senior vice president of privately owned Forever 21. “This is the first concept that incorporates all the various merchandise initiatives we have to date.”

The store, which took over a lease from a Saks Fifth Avenue outlet, also includes a line of denim-based men’s wear, Twenty One, which started selling in a handful of Los Angeles units in May.

The look of the new store is a departure. Just inside the front doors, shoppers are greeted by a red mannequin holding on to a group of ducks, also painted red, on red leashes. Dramatic crystal chandeliers drop from the ceilings, and Regency-era moldings cover many of the walls. Chairs and a table crafted from driftwood slabs form a seating vignette next to a Godzilla-sized topiary that ascends beside a wide staircase.

Merchandise is divided into themed enclaves. Categories such as silver jewelry, intimates, Eighties-inspired knit styles and sunglasses inhabit their own corners. Party dresses are displayed in an atelier-like setting, complete with gilded birdcages. Vintage-inspired looks hang in a section with wooden, boardwalk-like floors and walls.

The response from shoppers has been enthusiastic, said the store’s general manager, Jenny Hong. “We’ve overheard people on cell phones telling their friends, ‘You won’t believe where I am. I’m in the biggest Forever 21 store ever,'” she said.

Meyer said the company would likely replicate the multiconcept store in the future, but added, “We see this as an addition to the classic Forever 21 stores. We’re still rolling out the classic store in selected malls, though they have gotten bigger.”

The mall-based Forever 21 stores launched at around 900 square feet, but new (and expanded) stores are being built to between 7,000 and 12,000 square feet.

This story first appeared in the July 26, 2006 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

In 2001, the company launched Forever XXI, a larger version of the classic store, with an average size of 24,000 square feet.

The company launched its first retail store in 1984 in Highland Park, a working-class neighborhood just north of downtown Los Angeles.

The company operates 260 Forever 21 and Forever XXI units in the U.S. and abroad; 10 For Love 21 accessories stores, and 120 Gadzooks stores, which the company acquired last year. The Gadzooks units will eventually be converted into Forever 21 stores, Meyer said.

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