After Topshop shut down all its U.S. and SA stores, the Stuttafords shutdown and the demise of the Platinum Group, Forever 21 is now filing for bankruptcy

Forever 21 store is pictured in London
Forever 21 store is pictured in London

The end of fashion month was culminated by international retail chain Forever 21, filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. According to Forbes, the company's co-founders Jin Sook and Do Won "Don" Chang were no longer billionaires by July this year after over three successful decades of fashion retail. 

Euromonitor International, a market research provider, provided the following comment from their Fashion & Beauty Analysts Nina Marston and Irina Ivanilova;

"Once a favourite among teenagers and young adults, Forever 21 has been struggling for a while to maintain its appeal. The news of their bankruptcy today [Sunday] comes after that of Barney’s Department stores last month, and is symptomatic of the US fashion retailers’ difficulties to adapt to the new way young consumers shop for fashion.

"For example, Euromonitor International Lifestyle Survey indicates that 29% American consumers aged less than 29 regularly buy apparel and footwear on a smartphone, while 35% of such consumers research apparel and footwear online before buying it."

Additionally, the market research provider observes that over 33% American Gen-Z consumers now selling and buying second-hand items once every few months - in fashion among other areas - another threat to brands and retailers is the rise of the resale market. This is a phenomenon that is also starting to gain traction in South Africa too. 

READ MORE: These are the labels South Africans are coveting the most on the pre-owned luxury fashion market 

Our own local retail industry has been symptomatic of an economic illness that might see us visiting malls even far less than we did just five years ago.

The year 2015 saw the coup de grâce of the 30-year-old Platinum Group which had Aca Joe, Urban, Hilton Wiener, Jenni Button, and Vertigo in its stable, after having furnished the wardrobes of middle class black South African consumers for all occasions season after season. 

In 2017, Stuttafords stores then finally left our malls for good after 159 years of selling coveted (and overpriced) European and American brands to local fashion enthusiasts. In the same year, all standalone Mango, River Island and Nine West stores also packed their paper bags and left SA retail centers hollow. 

READ MORE: No more Stuttafords and Nine West? Where you'll be shopping next 

And then we were down to a handful of fast fashion options including Zara (which has now also gone online in SA), H&M, Cotton On, and Topshop; just to name a few. 

Ah, Topshop with all its offbeat once-in-a-lifetime shoes and size-inclusive jeans. That was until they left us too in 2018, but not without a bang of a sale.

Not too long after officially closing its doors in South Africa last year, Topshop then resolved to close all 11 of their U.S. stores earlier in 2019 as the brand continued to battle.

According to Business Insider, Topshop parent company Arcadia Group proposed these closures as part of a restructuring deal amid financial difficulty. The website reports that Topshop will, however, continue to sell its clothing online through its wholesale partners.

Topshop follows its fellow beleaguered Victoria’s Secret, which had recently shared its plans to close 53 stores in the U.S. – and, according to CNN, is because more women are deserting the brand for lingerie startups and big retailers. Both Topshop and Victoria’s Secret have been accused of not keeping up with the times when it comes to fashion.

READ MORE: As Victoria’s Secret CEO resigns, will the lingerie company finally realise "fat" and trans women are sexy too? 

However, Topshop’s woes go beyond its supposed outdated business model, the allegations of misconduct against Arcadia Group chairman Philip Green towards his staff saw Beyoncé buying back her Ivy Park clothing line from the Topshop brand. 

The move to gain complete ownership of her brand Ivy Park, a sportswear and athleisure styled clothing brand, came after chairman of Arcadia group and parent company of Top Shop, Philip Green was accused of sexual harassment and racism toward staff.

In the wake of the allegations, Beyoncé's fans and activist group, Equity Now, called on the Brown Skin Girl hitmaker to cut ties with Philip Green, since she has "put herself forward as a women's right activist" said Yasmeen Hassan, one of the Equity Now activist in this BBC article

READ MORE: Beyonce in trademark battle over Ivy Park clothing line

The Beyoncé Collection took to Twitter to announce the move to cut ties with Philip Green and Top Shop in this tweet that read " Beyoncé has ended her joint venture with Sir Philip Green after allegations of racial and sexual harassment, buying his 50% stake in Ivy Park [...]".

The tweet was met with much praise and applaud from her fans or the Beyhive as she affectionately calls them. Here are some of their tweets.

READ MORE: ‘Beyoncé gave me confidence,’ says trans impersonator

"Always putting her money where her mouth is" 

While Philip Green "categorically" and "wholly" denies the allegations held against him as mentioned in this BBC article, we do give King Bey a big thumbs up for not turning a blind eye and living up to the reputation she's made herself as an activist for women's rights and equality.

READ MORE: Laverne Cox is the face of Beyonce's new Ivy Park fashion campaign

The Ivy Park collection has since been available for sale on the brand's website. It is not certain whether the group will be entering another joint venture with other fashion retailers as yet.

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