Forever 21 is a California-based fast fashion brand with a strong presence in the global market, especially in the women’s wear category. They cater to a demographic falling within the age range of 19 to 29 years. Forever 21’s Indian wing is owned by Aditya Birla Fashion and Retail Limited, and the brand is working with 12 manufacturers and 3 intermediaries at the moment. Forever 21 and Fashinza teamed up in July 2020 and presently, Fashinza is helping them to source approximately 15-20% of their monthly buying value. In a recent conversation with Manvi Chaturvedi, spokesperson from Forever 21, we enquired about her experiences in the industry, the major challenges the brand has faced, and their plans for the future. We also asked about their experiences with Fashinza till date. Here’s what we learned from the conversation.
Forever 21’s sourcing operations
Prior to 2019, Forever 21 was primarily sourcing their products from China but over the past two years they have been focusing on local resources, so as to improve their margins and secure a more agile supply chain. In the process, Fashinza has emerged as one of their top 5 suppliers. While most of their sourcing partners are located in India, a couple of them are still based out of China and Vietnam. These international sourcing partners enable Forever 21 to produce niche apparels which are not easily available in India.
Major sourcing challenges faced by Forever 21
According to Manvi, establishing a functional supply chain for the Indian market was a challenge in itself, more so because apart from the operational complications, they were dealing with the financial issues of Forever 21’s US entity. They were a new team with limited resources, and it was not easy to locate suppliers who could deliver quality products, work with multiple categories, and yet accept low MoQs. This was a central challenge that Fashinza addressed which eventually led to the partnership.
A new beginning in the midst of a pandemic
Fashinza and Forever 21 have been working together for the past two seasons, and in Manvi’s opinion, the partnership was a productive one last winter, when Fashinza’s team took care of end-to-end execution of the season’s production, winning the brand’s confidence in the process. In her words, the development team and the Account Manager (Himanshu Gautam) were proactive, communicative, and quick to resolve problems. Forever 21 started to value Fashinza’s partnership because they received support from Fashinza during their nascent stage while the industry was already coping with the disruptions caused by Covid-19.
For Summer/Spring 2021, Fashinza has been helping Forever 21 to launch a new category - Men’s Wear - with nearly 18,000 pieces across different styles. Initially, there were delays in production owing to certain inadequacies on the part of the vendor, but the Account Manager has been responsive and is handling the issue by reassigning the project to a different vendor. The said collection is yet to be launched.
Visions for the future
Forever 21 has been traditionally relying upon excel spreadsheets to record/ manage their production updates and the digital intervention that Fashinza is offering piqued their interest. Manvi believes that Fashinza’s dashboard (which helps brands to track and manage all their orders on a single platform with live updates) is a unique proposition that deserves a rating of 7.5 out of 10 in terms of visual appeal. In terms of functionality, however, they have not entirely explored the dashboard yet, but they seemed excited to learn more about it in the near future. Multiple phone calls and mail threads to follow up on orders is a burden for brands, and a platform that sends automated alerts to replace the need to follow up could be a useful tool according to Manvi. After receiving this feedback, Fashinza has started to send automated emails to both buyers and suppliers about all the updates.
In addition to these, Forever 21 has other plans on the horizon and Fashinza is all set to assist them in the process. Presently, Forever 21 mostly relies on tech packs sourced from their US wing for designs but going forward they would like to explore original designs for themselves, and Fashinza’s in-house designers are looking forward to help them with the process. As Fashinza’s manufacturing base continues to expand across Vietnam and other countries, Forever 21 would like to explore the possibilities of shifting a percentage of their production to those countries that specialize in exclusive products (such as multiple blend fabrics) that are not easily accessible here in India.
The conversation helped our team to understand Forever 21’s requirements better and we believe it would strengthen our bond in future by enabling us to address the brand’s needs adequately.