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Fast, Fashionable and Forever

Forever 21 will bring its fast-fashion story to IRDC. Be there to hear it.

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We’ve just announced that Forever 21 is the winner of the 2010 VMSD/Peter Glen Retailer of the Year Award. Why Forever 21? And who’s Peter Glen? I hope the answers to both questions are clear in everyone’s mind.

Peter Glen was one of this industry’s most influential minds, a consultant and motivational speaker who lectured groups large and small on the importance of smart retailing. And he wrote his popular front-of-the-book column for VMSD for 28 years.

To Glen, “smart” retailing wasn’t strictly about store design – it was about strategic store design that understood target audiences and created shopping environments specifically aimed at that audience. And Glen was also messianic about being flexible enough to change what needed to be changed and to expand on what was working. Finally, good retailing for Glen had a strong customer service component, or all the excellent store design was for nothing.

Peter died suddenly in September 2001, just as we were getting ready for our very first IRDC, in Orlando. To honor him, we created the award in his name for the company that best lived up to his standards. As I’ve said many times in presenting the award over the years – to Target, Apple, Neiman Marcus, Best Buy, Costco and others – it’s never about the best same-store sales figures. Good thing, too, because in this current climate solid comps are hard to come by.

Which brings me to the other rhetorical question: Why Forever 21? Yes, their sales are good. But is it just their attractive prices? If it were, everyone would simply lower prices and then fight off the multitudes. No, this is also a retailer that has perfectly read its demographic. They want trendy fashion that looks good but is also affordable. And they’re always looking for whatever is new, different, exciting. By the way, the demographic is not simply 21 – it’s also 31 and 41 and 51 wanting to dress and feel 21. Forever.

So what’s Forever 21’s secret sauce? Like most other secret sauces, they’re not sharing. But the formula involves a great eye for fashion. And an amazing process for getting that fashion produced and into their stores fast. Fast fashion! The idea is, when you see your item, grab it! It won’t be in any other stores in the mall. It may not be in any other Forever 21 store. And it may not be in the store you’re in very much longer, if you hesitate.

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Want to hear their story? They’ll be at IRDC on October 15 to accept their award. Be there, too. Go to irdconline.com to register. Don’t hesitate or they’ll be gone.
 

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