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Fashion & Style

Ladies Flock to Forever 21

Posted by Roger Cullman / June 24, 2007

Throngs of women, young and old, chasing the latest fashions -- and their youth -- lined up as early as 8:30 this morning at Yonge and Dundas for the opening of the new Forever 21 retail store.

By 10am opening time, over 60 people are in line. I chat with a bunch of young women already waiting over an hour in anticipation of the opening.

"I'm in my 30s, but I'd rather look like I'm in my 20s," says Eleanor Micallef, 31. Along with her friends Yo and Ange, they made the trip all the way from Brampton to get the forever 21 experience.

Even those younger than 21 already wish to be forever 21. Nicole, 17, was at the very front with her mom because she wants "to get the best of everything first." Why does she want to be forever 21? "More freedom.... And independence." I guess shopping has its privileges.

Nicole's mom Sarah says she's been to a Forever 21 store in Chicago, but it's a smaller store than the Toronto one. "I like the store because the prices are good and they've got up-to-date fashions."

Just then the doors open and customers pour into the store to the sounds of "Take Control" by Amerie. Lineups soon start forming at the change rooms. The accessories shelves are among the most popular areas, but leave many a young lady confused for the lack of nearby mirrors.

Adele Castanedo, 38, is the first through the cashier with two bracelets that total $18.66. "We were nearby and my husband went to get a coffee nearby and I just strolled in. At first I thought it was The Gap."

The Gap was the previous tenant at this prime location, now home to the second Forever 21 store in Canada, after Edmonton. The chain already has over 300 stores in the US with 70 planned for Canada.

"Our aim is to be very hip and now and very fashionable," says store manager Jeremy Cookson. "It's a mindset. Everybody wants to be 21."

Including me. But for now, only the ladies get to be forever 21. There's no men's section in the Toronto store.

But all hope is not lost. "We're launching a men's line in August," says Cookson. "Just in time for the back-to-school season." Now I'm especially glad to be going back to school in September.

After an hour of shopping I catch up with Micallef, who emerges with a new pair of black earrings and olive sunglasses, but is a little disappointed. "The Forever 21 store at the Walden Galleria in Buffalo is bigger and has better deals and selection. People in the US are way bigger, so there's a lot more smaller sizes still available."

Upon exiting Forever 21 Micallef and her two friends cross Dundas Street to shop at the H&M, where they're having a 50% off sale.



Jen / June 24, 2007 at 02:38 pm
Ugh! Man, will this area ever be able to attract anything more upscale than super cheap stores??

This building is gorgeous architecturally. It merits a more sophisticated, upscale tenant not another bargain (cheap-chic) store.

What a disappointment!

Gloria / June 24, 2007 at 02:44 pm
Merchandise apparently bestows youth, freedom and, independence? It's just clothes, ladies.
Jen / June 24, 2007 at 02:59 pm
Lots of American and international stores are expanding into Canada with initial stores in Toronto, but are not choosing Yonge Street as a location. Crate and Barrel for instance is entering the Canadian market next year by opening a store at Yorkdale.

Why isn't Yonge & Dundas viewed as prime retail for national and international investors?

Why isn't Toronto and the Yonge Street BIA marketing it as such???

Why do only bargain chains find this location appealing???

Dundas Square and Yonge Street are a testament to mediocrity and tackiness! Very disappointing.
Rick / June 24, 2007 at 07:12 pm
For months I wondered what "XXI" on the front of this building meant.

And now I know.
Ingrid / June 24, 2007 at 08:39 pm
Yonge Street has always been a tacky, decrepit strip smack in the middle of our city. Why? Because the people running this city have no immagination or vision for the most important street in Toronto.

That's why the only stores moving in here are cheap clothing shops, fast food joints, record stores, head shops, strip clubs, sex shops and bargain stores.

I agree it's a shame that Forever 21 has opened up here. This is not a cause for celebration.

I shudder to think that we're probably going to have two more tacky chains open up in the two gorgeous turn-of-the-century buildings across from the Eaton's Centre which have been empty and neglected for decades. I despair that this city will ever get anything right.
ryan / June 24, 2007 at 09:40 pm
let's just spread the upscale exclusivity of bloor west across the whole city, hmm? clearly, those without the cash for high-end stores should NOT be able to shop downtown in toronto. kick their asses out to the scarborough town centre!
Ingrid / June 24, 2007 at 11:35 pm
Please -- most of the city is composed of cheap, tacky stores and run-down, neglected neighbourhoods! Look north and south. Look east and west. There is no shortage of the cheap and tacky in Toronto!!! This city loves the cheap and tacky. It celebrates the cheap and tacky. It's a reflection of the mindset of a city that has run out of ideas, aspirations and ambition and doesn't even attempt to compete internationally.

Please let's not celebrate another tacky bargain store taking over a historic building in our downtown.
Lourdes / June 24, 2007 at 11:57 pm
Forever 21 made headlines a while back with garment workers in the US filing a sweatshop suit against the chain. They picked in front of Forever 21 stores, urged a boycott of the chain, and even demonstrated in front of the owners' home in Beverly Hills.

Workers earned $4 an hour working 10 hours a day, six days a week, in a factory with no running water and one bathroom. Workers who protested were branded as troublemakers, attempts were made to silence them, and they were blacklisted and prevented from getting jobs in the industry.

Not a very nice addition to Toronto! :(

brokenengine / June 25, 2007 at 12:20 am
Sounds to me like Ingrid isn't really a fan of our fair burg.
Ka / June 25, 2007 at 02:07 pm
I am so pissed. I've always shopped at Forever 21 in the States. Why? Because the clothes are great and DIRT cheap. Well, today I visited the new Toronto location and guess what? A pair of pants that in the States costs US$22 costs CAN$34 in there. The exchange rate is minimal now! I was so excited to see the store in my hometown but now I'm convincing myself that I'll continue doing my shopping in the US... sad times for Can cheap fashionistas.
Tia / June 28, 2007 at 09:17 am
I have been to forever 21 in Toronto and let me tell you that I found the store horrible. They had no nice clothes, it seemed like they put all the left over from the states in our Toronto location. I couldn't believe, all stores in the States they have better clothes. I would never shop there again.
Natalie / June 29, 2007 at 09:50 am
When I first went into one of the stores in the States, I loved it! It was cheap, the quality not so great, but perfect if you just felt like buying another summer top you didn?t need.
When I went to the Toronto location I was overwhelmed. Not because of the huge amounts of people, but because the clothes looked really cheap while the prices weren?t. For some reason their clothes looked like (an even worse version of) Urban Behaviour. In the American stores I could easily find quite unique pieces that I wouldn?t be able to find so easily in Toronto, but the Toronto store had absolutely nothing special, unique or different. And the prices are really much higher than the ones in the States; I agree with Ka, something that costs $22US should not cost $34CAN ? at that price I might as well keep shopping at H&M, where the quality is much better and you have a refund policy!
Tasha / June 29, 2007 at 10:06 am
Their accessories are really expensive! A necklace that would cost $7.90 at H&M costs around $16 at XXI. The clothes selection is perfect for the inner stripper in you.
Honey / June 29, 2007 at 06:43 pm
I'd like to say that this is the exact same stuff you'll find in the United States. It's the exact same store, owned by the very same company. The prices are higher, but the fact is head office in LA have set these prices, so if you have a problem, I'd consider taking it up with the head office. You can email them via the Forever 21 website. If you couldn't find anything it's probably because the company didn't anticipate the store opening to be so successful, the store was left almost empty after the first day. People seem to think it's some kind of knock off of the American version. Get over it. Its the same stuff. It's only because you want what you don't have, and once you've got it, you think it sucks. If you're willing to drive to the US for very a poor quality pair of $22 pants, then you're a sucker. Again, I'd consider emailing the head office - that might get the prices changed!!! wink wink!!!
WHAT? / July 5, 2007 at 02:07 am
I dont no what you guys are talking about...this is the best thing to happen to toronto!! cheap, good looking clothes...Im really looking forward to shopping here!
Jazzel / July 11, 2007 at 01:24 am
<strong>This store is what it is. Love it or hate it. </strong>
Natalie / July 19, 2007 at 11:38 am
<span style="font-size: 9pt; font-family: Arial">I know it&rsquo;s not a knock off version of the American store; I know it&rsquo;s owned by the same people. I went on the website, and pretty much EVERYTHING I liked on the website was not in the store, not even in the wrong sizes. I just haven&rsquo;t seen them at all. And I went there on the first day. They have nice dresses on the website and none of the ones I liked were in the store. I never went to the States JUST to shop, so obviously I wouldn&rsquo;t drive to the States just to shop at Forever 21.</span><span style="font-size: 9pt; font-family: Arial">The problem is NOT that the Canadian prices are more expensive, it&rsquo;s that they&rsquo;re MUCH MUCH more expensive, considering the high Canadian dollar and the poor quality of the clothes. I also understand that the Canadian prices will always be MORE expensive than the direct exchange rate proportion, for importing reasons and things like that. But the CAD prices are so much more expensive that it almost doesn&rsquo;t make the store cheaper than any other low quality store already here. H&amp;M also has CAD prices that are out of proportion to the exchange rate, but it&rsquo;s better than at XXI.</span><span style="font-size: 9pt; font-family: Arial">For example, a dress costing $39.90 in US would cost $49.90 in CAD at H&amp;M (from experience). According to the XXI &ldquo;proportions&rdquo;, the same dress costing $39.90 in US would cost (x1.52), which would make it $60 in </span><span style="font-size: 9pt; font-family: Arial">Canada</span><span style="font-size: 9pt; font-family: Arial">. </span><p style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt" class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-size: 9pt; font-family: Arial">E-mailing the head office will not help, it&rsquo;s just the way the Canadian market works. Plus, they can afford to lose a customer or a 1000. There are still many people who will or already do shop there.</span></p><p style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt" class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-size: 9pt; font-family: Arial">Let&rsquo;s just hope that they&rsquo;ll be bringing more stuff in from their website (like their dresses!)&nbsp;as opposed to their Stitches look-alike clothes. :)</span></p><p style="margin: 0in 0in 0pt" class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-size: 9pt; font-family: Arial">In any case, it definitely beats having another GAP branch 2 minutes away from the Eaton&nbsp;Gap store. :)))))))</span></p>
Ny / August 24, 2007 at 04:39 pm
Natalie I agree with you 100% You've said everything that I wanted to point out and more!
I havent been to the store but I guessed it, based on past experience and from what i've heard, looks like I wont be wasting my time. Besides...taking a trip to go shopping is totally worth it in my eyes and the selection is much better than you will find here, no matter what they tell you. Why should I have to spend 100's of dollars just for peace of mind that I wont be bumping into a clone of me wearing the exact same outfit at a club, mall, or even walking down the street. Another sad disappointment for Toronto....Montreal all the way!
Jen / September 3, 2007 at 06:07 pm
I can't believe I just wasted my time reading the first part of the page. How does traveling all the way to the U.S. save you money?? The money that you think you're "saving" goes into the gas and accommodations for the travel, doesn't it?! If you want high quality, pay the price. You get what you pay for. You can't get a designer piece for cheap. It makes no sense unless you work for that comapany! Another thing these people have to consider is the way reatil and marketing works. The prices are set that way for specific reasons, not just because they can change it when they feel like it. Depending on the size of the store and location, they set their prices accordingly to cover rent/property/leasing fees. Not to mention importing, advertisements, supplies, payrolls, etc...After all that, they still have make enough profit from their sales!

Some are just ignorant and plain stupid. All they care about is looking expensive and in the process they sound like "rich snobs". They put themselves in that stereotype.
Either that or they want the best quality for dirt cheap....PEOPLE NEED TO WAKE UP AND GET REAL. If you look good, then you look good, it shouldn't matter where you shop or how much you can afford. The majority of the population are either middle-class or low-class citizens. Let the celebrities take care of the useless spending, why would an ordinary person with an annual income less than what they make in a day try that hard?

Being practical and realistic and smart gets you places, being spoiled and irresponsible gets you in debt.
An / September 3, 2007 at 06:22 pm
I agree with the comment above! People need start living real. Fashion trends come and go, if you don't have the money to waste, spend it wisely. Looking good isn't about how much you spent on an outfit, it's about your style CREATIVITY and CO-ORDINATION.
farmarbas / September 19, 2007 at 12:38 am
I love tis Forever XXI store. great selecktions. lots of nice chic clothes.
roseann / September 30, 2007 at 04:33 pm
I just would like to know how badly I was treated today at your store in Braintree Mass,I wanted to return a blouse that was bought for my daughter the tags were still on I wanted only a gift card or a larger size. I was treated so rudely and I know for a fact I will never shop there again and I will be sure to pass on this information to my family and friends and there daughters,
Roger / October 1, 2007 at 01:11 am
With the Canadian dollar at par with the USD now, how many of you are more likely to go south of the border to shop at the Forever 21 stores now?
Mark / November 2, 2007 at 11:38 am
Hey Forever 21 is the best store around. I dont know what all you little punks are talking about. I love this store, and lets not call it cheap, its just les expensive. I rather buy something that si the same in another store, but cost less. The prices are lower because they want more customers. DUH, I learned this in my ADVANCED marketing class!
natalie / February 29, 2008 at 08:51 pm
forever 21 has the worst return/exchange policy. I had a shirt with the tags on it but without a receipt b/c it was a gift. All i wanted to do was get a bigger size. Nope!! The he/she, whatever it was at the desk told me if it was past 15 days, i was stuck with it. Oh and she also said, "like, I can ask my manager and stuff". What the hell is she saying?? You are hired to work the desk and interact with adults...learn to talk like one. Anyway, i walked out and promised myself never to go back. That store is a disgusting mess with crap thrown all over. I would rather pay more for good quality,better customer service and a reasonable exchange policy. The girl at the desk did not care to make the customer happy. All she cared about was how cool she thought she looked with her pants falling off her ass and her skateboard haircut.
Anna / April 16, 2008 at 04:41 pm
I recently went to this store and was treated horribly and so i sent them a message and i felt like posting it here too:

To Whom It May Concern:

Upon recently hearing good things about your clothing line from a friend, I decided to see for myself at your Yonge and Dundas location. While the clothes had a lot of variety, being well designed and well priced, the service was beyond horrendous. None of the employees would answer any questions despite how basic they were, leaving me to question your abilities to hire employees. There is two universities nearby I wouldn?t imagine it to be too hard to hire someone with IQ higher than the clothes themselves. I had asked one employee who had been listening to her music on her ipod, a question and the look I had received upon bothering her was unacceptable, as if I had interrupted something extremely important. I understand that the store is meant to be appealing to a young fresh generation, by appearing to be ?cool or hip? but being 19 years of age, do not find the store any such thing. If anything I found it rude and uninviting. If I had wanted bad service I would have chosen to shop at a lower end clothing line. Meanwhile I would like to receive at least standard service, which your store seemed to lack greatly.

Amongst other things none of the employees seemed to want to be there, and were all standing around the centre of the store discussing who should go for coffee pick up while no one was supervising the change room, resulting in a massive line which took up halve the store. (Meanwhile the second change room upstairs remained closed.)

Once I had finally waited long enough for a change room, one of the employees had decided to ignore the line waiting for a change room and tried to find a room for something she would like to try on, resulting on her pounding on the change room doors while laughing with her fellow employees. (As unbelievable and shocking as this sounds, it all remains true.) Once the ordeal of the change room was over with, it had been time to pay, which was just as eventful. At the time there had only been one cashier opened and if not already assumed the store was experiencing quite a rush (mind you it was only four in the afternoon on a weekday, I can only start to imagine the lack of service on a Saturday afternoon), but for there to be only one cashier was quite a nuisance. And lest you forget that throughout the store many employees have been standing around folding the same article of clothing for an hour while discussing their social lives, but mind you standing next to the one cashier who was in fact a male was a female employee who were having a quite lively conversation none of which were business matters. While that social interaction may be normal on the streets it is simply intolerable within the workplace.

So in the end I would ask if you are aware of this low end service and unbearable behavior from your employees. In honestly how do these people get hired? They lack common curtsey, standard knowledge, lack of respect and knowledge of what is acceptable I the work place. NEVER in my life have I ever experience such service. In my opinion there should be a reassessment of the employees, since they are clearly not doing what they are asked for, when hired to provide customer service.

While the style of clothing and the atmosphere are perfect, personally I wouldn?t think of returning to shop in that location any time soon, and since there is no other location nearby, I may never return. And while there is the option of online shopping, it just isn?t as much engaging as trying things on and being immersed in the shopping frenzy.

So in the end I would like to ask for your option and if it was by company?s choice that such imbecile have been hired.

Thank you and I await your response.


<B> their response was a generic apology </B>
Portia / May 14, 2008 at 10:05 am
Aww. You guys all made the store sound so terrible! Well, I guess it's a good thing that you're letting us all know how bad it is, because I was really looking forward to shopping there. I guess I'll have to shop somewhere else, or just order online. I heard that they don't have as much clothes in the Canada store as they do in the ones in the USA, so I was wondering, can I just order online from the USA stores? I live in Canada, by the way, lol. Please reply!
emma / June 27, 2008 at 11:08 am
You can only order from the canadian website

<a href="";><;/a>
apparently if you spend more than $50 you get 20% off and if you spend more than $75, free shipping!
Jennifer / September 13, 2008 at 01:09 pm
It's depressing that the service is so poor at the Toronto location. On a positive note, I can at least say that shopping from the Canadian website is a breeze. I've ordered several times, received everything as per the photos, and the shipping is unbelievably fast. They do indeed offer 20% off when you purchase $50 or more and there is free shipping after $75 - and this shipping is the fast shipping I am talking about! They say it should average 5-10 days, but I have received all of my purchases from them within 2-3 days. If the service in the Toronto store is poor then I suggest this. No ignorant employees and the ease of shopping in your own home :)
Anna / May 16, 2009 at 12:47 am
I visited the store in Toronto with my friend who was hoping to buy some dresses she saw on their website. Five minutes after we came in, she became very disappointed as none of the clothes she was looking for were in the store. I haven't found anything "unique" either.

Honestly, seeing how this is an American store, I expected something different from what is sold in every store here in Canada, but forever 21 looked like any other Canadian store. I didn't even look at the prices, that would just add another disappointment for that day.
Cecil / January 6, 2011 at 08:53 am
Bad customer service. Forever 21 online shopping sucks! They promised you a free item when you purchased another but tells you the free item is out of stock but go ahead and charge your credit card without offering you alternatives! I never want to shop with them again!
scarborough resident replying to a comment from ryan / March 17, 2011 at 12:55 am
funny how forever 21 will be opening at scarborough town centre
Scarborough The Best / March 17, 2011 at 01:35 pm
Scarborough Town Centre today is 1000% better than what it used to be a few years ago. Its the best shopping centre east of the greater Toronto area. PINK by Victoria Secret; Browns; Jack & Jones, Forever 21.....etc......check them out guys!!
Justine / April 25, 2011 at 02:20 am
Wow, I don't understand why people are hating on Scarborough Town Center. It's a really good mall (almost comparable to Eaton's center). Clearly people are ignorant of what's inside. I would have to guess that at least 60-70% of what's inside STC is at Eatons.
Sean replying to a comment from Justine / April 25, 2011 at 07:08 am
If it makes you feel any better, a whole bunch of people hate Eaton Centre as well.
Erika / November 10, 2013 at 06:08 pm
Can't takes side if you don't know the area. I order online through Forever 21... Luv their leggings for fall/winter
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