Forever 21 opens huge store, goes after grown-ups

Forever 21Chances are that if you're over 30 and shopping at Forever 21, you're looking for tops you can wear to your craziest friend's South Beach bachelorette, then dispose of at Miami International -- so that no one in the real world ever knows you owned them.

But the country's foremost purveyor of ripped-from-the-tabloids trends wants older, more sophisticated customers, according to WWD. How do they plan to get them? Bigger stores.

The company says that department-store-sized outposts with larger selections of swimwear, lingerie, accessories and plus-sized styles will help them win shoppers who have passed the quarter-century mark (45% of its clients are 18-24, 20% under 18). The first supersized store opens today in Cerritos, Calif.

According to Racked LA, though, the emporium isn't exactly designed to bring in grown-ups. The centerpiece of the space is a generous selection of costume-y, rockabilly-inspired styles that call to mind a 50s diner waitress -- a "fast" 50s diner waitress, as she might have been referred to then.

Which gets to the heart of the real problem -- Forever 21 isn't going to reach older shoppers with (much) more of the same. It needs to devote more resources to items women can wear without being mistaken for narcs at a high school dance.

I'll admit that they're trying, a little, with their current 'Forever 21 Boutique' capsule collection. This bright, sleek blouse is a great basic, and this illusion-neck trapeze top is cute without being cutesy. If the retailer ramps up adult silhouettes, they'll bring in more adults.

And seriously -- they have to do something about how ridiculously messy and chaotic the stores get. The floor is always carpeted with fallen tank tops, and you've got a better chance of seeing a ghost than finding a store attendant to help you find a size.

Whatever's on the mannequin is inevitably out of stock, and the racks are so overstuffed that you can't pick up a dress without upsetting every hanger on the rung. All of this I could deal with when I was in college and needed something for happy hour. But alas, nobody stays 21 forever.
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