Mall owners want to buy a mall staple: Forever 21

American malls are already ghost towns, and Forever 21’s departure could make things worse.

February 3, 2020

The mall magnates Simon Property Group and Brookfield Property Partners are part of a group that wants to buy the fast-fashion trailblazer Forever 21.

The $81m price tag would be a downright steal for a company whose annual revenues once exceeded $4B

If it sounds like a fire sale, Fast Company explains why it makes sense: The landlords are trying to keep their tenant from leaving town.

That’s because malls are already ghost towns…

… and Forever 21’s exit would probably make things worse. The company filed for bankruptcy protection in September, announcing a plan to close hundreds of stores.

At the time, experts said the move was a sign that fast fashion was going out of style:

  • Those dirt-cheap duds are terrible on the environment, and younger buyers are getting thrifty.
  • Worker safety is a big concern. In 2013, more than 1k people died in a garment-factory collapse in Bangladesh.

So was the fast-fashion frenzy just a fad in a cheap suit?

Maybe! Vox pointed to some McKinsey research projecting a dim outlook for global fashion brands in 2020.

  • 58% of fashion honchos said they expected the forecast for value-oriented outfits (that’s you, Forever 21) to get worse.
  • Consumers are only going to demand more sustainable choices, but the industry has a lot of catching up to do. Just one example: Fashion accounts for 20-35% of microplastic flows into the ocean.

But experts say there’s still a gap between what consumers say they want (greener jeans) and what they actually buy (cut-rate clothes).

This sale isn’t final — yet

Forever 21 wants the mall owners’ group to be the lead bidders in a bankruptcy auction. Rival bidders have until Friday to make a counteroffer.

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