12 times Forever 21 has made people really, really upset

Since launching their first retail store in 1984, Forever 21 is no stranger to controversy, with a reported 50-plus lawsuits filed against them over the years. Here’s 12 times the popular mall chain found themselves under fire due to various accusations, stemming from cultural insensitivity to ripping off designers.

1. When their plus-size Instagram wasn’t plus enough.

Most recently, customers were upset that models featured on the Instagram account for their plus-size division were not a realistic depiction of plus. 

2. When they were roasted on Twitter for featuring white models in Straight Outta Compton t-shirts.

In 2013, Forever 21 was accused of cultural appropriation after releasing NWA-inspired “Straight Outta Compton” t-shirts. “Now you don’t have to even step foot in Compton to get a Compton t-shirt,” one Twitter user had pointed out.


 3. When they got in trouble for selling “Navajo” panties.

The retailer violated the Indian Arts and Crafts Act of 1990 when they used the word “Navajo” to describe various items including a pair of panties.


4. And sold something that resembled a Native American headdress.

Their “boho-inspired” headwear looked too similar to the sacred headdresses worn by Native American peoples.


 5. Then there was the “Oriental Girl” necklace.

In 2011, Forever 21 sold a $1.50 necklace that was described using the offensive, outdated term “Oriental.”


6. They were accused of producing their clothing in sweatshop-like conditions.

After the U.S. Department of Labor subpoenaed Forever 21 in 2012 demanding information on their working hours and wages, the company ignored the request. Investigators found proof that manufacturers were producing goods for the company under sweatshop-like conditions.

7. When they fired Chrissy Teigen over her weight.

During the early part of her modeling career, Teigen was fired from Forever 21 and revealed the reason in 2014. She recalled them telling her, “‘You need to leave right now. They just said that you are fat and you need to get your measurements taken.’”  

8. They ripped off an indie designer.

Last October, a freelance artist named Sam Larson noticed typography he made of the world “Wild” that he posted on his Instagram was copied by Forever 21 and put on a shirt two years later.

9. And did it more than once.

An artist who posted an image she created on Tumblr was upset to find Forever 21 using it on one of their men’s graphic tees without permission.

10. When they made a shirt that some people thought was anti-education.

The retailer made some people angry with a shirt that said “Allergic to Algebra.”


11. Multiple rip-off claims from other big brands.

It’s not just indie designers who fell victim to Forever 21 copycats. Anna Sui, Diane Von Furstenberg and Anthropologie were just a few of the established brands that filed copyright suits against the company, claiming they replicated designs.

12. When H&M accused them of stealing a design.

Fellow mall retailer H&M claimed Forever 21 ripped off a tote bag that said “Beach Please.”


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