Monday, May 26, 2008

New Identities

Joycee here.

Looking at labels is only the beginning of our newly-evolving consumer consciousness. If there was one surprising fact I learned in this course, it is that Forever 21 is the brainchild of a Korean family. The creation-manufacture-retail convention in corporate franchises over here on these shores goes from western idea, outsourcing of labor, and finally into western consumerism. So to realize that a well-known and popular franchise that is a staple in malls and also unsurprisingly, arrived at these low prices because of outsourcing is attributed a family from a country of manufacture is illogical.

One reason Forever 21 surprises me is because of the decor. There is an European flair in decor that although the clothes are hung on every possible wall space and crammed into every corner, the decor appeals to my senses. These efforts of investment convince customers that the product is somehow higher-end and classier than clothes from other similar stores (Wet Seal, Rave, Charlotte Russe).

Before the experiment started, I visited and patronized the new sister chain of Forever 21, For Love 21 which is an accessories-only store for the first time... And spent an exorbitant amount (to Forever 21-esque standards). Despite all these criticisms on cheap labor and hackneyed designs (Forever 21 lawsuits in the last few years accusing their designers of copying), I actually quite enjoyed shopping there and found "deals" on some items.

I suppose I shouldn't immediately assume that in a comparison between Forever 21 and other higher-end stores that outsource their labor, because of Forever 21's lower prices, they are either giving us cheaper products or treating the workers worse. Forever 21 should probably be appreciated for their "honesty" in pricing most of their items less than $20. It probably costs other stores the same to produce a similar product that really has no more quality than a tunic from Forever 21 but the price for consumers is three-fold.

1 comment:

kieulinh said...

remember to add references next time. i deduct a point for missing references.