Breaking News. Bah Humbug. Forever 21 Will Make Chicago’s Magnificent Mile A Bit Less Mag.

December 14, 2007 • Breaking News


It just about broke my heart. When crossing the street by Ohio and Michigan the other day I saw the writing on the wall (or rather the big plate glass windows). For those of you who haven’t heard: Forever 21 is inserting itself into the Mag Mile by replacing the Virgin Records. Let it be known that if wanting quality, ethical behavior and a decent reputation for Chicago’s "premiere" shopping district makes me a "snob" then bring on the name-calling.

But as for my rant… I am truly disgusted that this retailer made the grade for competing for and securing this space. Not only does Forever 21 profit from copying designer dresses (yes copy and not simply adhere to a similar style or trend ). Unlike H&M they don’t actually offer designers a chance to design a budget-conscious line but choose to actively copy garments. But doesn’t the Mag Mile have a reputation to uphold? Since when does cheap=good? That’s as ridiculous as saying only high-end=quality. I would rather have H&M act as the foundation for the block or even a freaking Banana Republic. Why not offer it to one of Chicago’s up and coming boutiques as an attempt to establish a more public presence, standing next to luxuriant retailers. Moreover, it’s not as if this is the only Forever 21 in Chicago. To the best of my knowledge there are at least 2 others within a two mile radius. Do we really need a whole block’s worth of Forever 21 on Michigan Avenue?

Even in Paris they have standards (as waning as they might be) for adding retailers to boulevards with a history and honorable reputation, like the Champs-Elysee. It’s bad enough that Water Tower place has gone downhill. Macy’s is the only store that draws people into the building and it looks like the target customer (no pun intended) is looking more like a Disney shopper than a Chanel window-shopper or even, well, a style-conscious Target shopper. Poor Marc Jacobs is opening in Bucktown of all places and with a neighbor like Forever 21 I can understand why. (Although my guess is that his presence will make the smaller boutiques get their act together a bit more). With the exception of the stores at 900 N. Michigan and a few high end retailers that dot the southern end, like La Perla, I’m sad to see the majority of the retailers fall short of magnificent.

– Joanne Molina, Senior Editor

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