Retail in Asia

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Forever 21 returns to Japan, reveals expansion plans

U.S. fast-fashion retailer Forever 21 relaunched in Japan on Tuesday, as the trend-driven company looks to expand across the Asian nation and reinvent itself as an upmarket apparel seller.

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Forever 21 has commenced trading in Japan via an online store and a pop-up store in central Tokyo. Meanwhile, some 80 percent of the retailer’s new collection will be developed by local partner Adastria Co., Japan’s third-largest apparel maker.

It aims for 15 stores in the country by February 2028, with sales including online totaling 10 billion yen ($74.5 million).

Forever 21 typically targets teenagers and young adults, but is aiming for a wider, upmarket clientele in Japan. The brand will tailor items to the country’s market, according to a report.

“Our aim is to localise the brand by size, colour and design,” Atsushi Sugita, head of Adastria’s licensing unit overseeing Forever 21 in the country, told Bloomberg in an interview. “The objective is to create a long-lasting brand. Most of the original items don’t fit the Japan market.”

The company plans to open its first permanent store in Osaka in April, and will open up to a dozen physical stores across the country. It is aiming  for revenue of JPY 10 billion (USD 74.5 million) by 2028, of which 60 percent of sales would be online.

Forever 21 first entered Japan in 2009, where it grew to about 20 stores. In September 2019, the American retailer filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, before it withdrew from Japan in October of that year.

In 2022, Japanese trading house Itochu bought the rights for the brand in the Japanese market from a U.S. investment fund that acquired Forever 21 in 2020. Itochu then signed a sublicense agreement with Adastria.