I'm not too pleased with you right now.

I used to be a pretty avid F21 shopper - as a wannabe-fashion-conscious teenager/young adult, I didn't have a bunch to spend on clothes, but I wanted to look trendy in what I did buy.  I remember when the Forever 21 in Huntsville opened and every single girl my age was buying bags of clothes there every weekend.  It was cheap enough that we could get a whole new outfit for under 30 dollars, and we were hooked.  On the surface, it seems like a great concept - cheap, trendy clothes that are so rock-bottom you don't feel bad when you give them away after the trend has run its course.

But the older I get, and the more I care about the impact my actions (including my buying habits) have on the world around me and on other people, and the more I learn about "fast fashion" business practices, the less I want to support your corporation, or any of the other myriad retailers who sacrifice integrity and humanity in favor of the bottom line.

Someone is paying for the manufacture of those clothes - and if you're only paying a tiny fraction at the cash register, the cost is probably coming from unfair labor practices and cutting corners when building facilities.  I completely understand the appeal of F21 and similar brands - I don't have a whole lot of disposable cash, but I can't morally justify supporting these systems.

Not only are these business practices bad for the laborers, they're bad for you too. Forever 21 doesn't require testing for toxins from their clothing and accessories manufacturers.  Though some of those manufacturers take it upon themselves to test for chemicals and harmful substances, its not required, so not all of them do - meaning that you're coming into very close contact with them whenever you wear that product.

Why is all this happening continuously, with most people unaware or not caring?  Because we let it.  Because we sacrifice our integrity for cheap clothes that we'll only wear for a season.

Inform yourself.  Research the brands you buy.  Look up conditions in sweatshops, learn about how toxins like formaldehyde can affect your body when you wear contaminated items.  And then spend your money accordingly.

I'm just one person, not even that influential of a person.  Withdrawing my support and money from a corporation as big as Forever 21 (and Urban Outfitters, and Charlotte Russe) won't make that much of a difference.  Unless a whole lot of people decide that they can no longer financially support these kinds of practices, they'll keep happening, because unfortunately money is the biggest decision maker in our world.

I would urge everyone who frequents these kinds of retailers to take a look at their priorities, and decide if its worth it. It's really not that expensive to make the change to more humane retailers - ASOS, even Target score fairly high on ethical practices.  It's a change, but it's not a change that would be catastrophic to your wallet.

So, F21, I would hope that as people become more informed, you would listen, and make some changes. Some drastic ones.  And until then, I won't be putting any money into you.

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Thanks for reading!