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Abandon All Hope, Ye Who Enter the New Bev Center Forever 21

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That whole rapture business?had you been anywhere near Saturday's grand opening of the humungoid Forever 21 at the Beverly Center, you probably would have thought, "Holy shit, it's coming down!" We could not get ourselves out of bed early enough to be there the minute the doors opened (but there were plenty of gals who started queuing up as early as 5am, THE HORROR), but when we rolled up, a few minutes past 10, it was almost bedlam. Booming dance music, people zipping around the store like pinballs, pre-pubescent girls shrieking?it pretty much felt like being on the wrong side of the rapture. But we did get there in time to nab a free Coffee Bean gift card; do they serve ice-blended mochas in hell?

Now let's talk about the store, which really is either paradise or purgatory, depending on if you're a F21 fan or not. We got a press release that stated the store was 45,000 square feet, making it about half the size of the behemoth at Los Cerritos Centre, but it didn't feel smaller. When you walk in, it's like a vast sea of Forever 21-ness. Aisles and aisles of clothing that aren't really pulled together by an discernible theme, legions of those cheap-shabby-chic furniture displays, mannequins that look like they're straight out of the milk bar in A Clockwork Orange?um, that's pretty much it, but on an unimaginably huge scale. The upstairs floor alone dwarfs most normal Forever 21s. It has its own entrance from the parking garage. Are you getting the idea that it's big? However big you're thinking it is right now, double that. It is that frickin' huge; the adult human brain is just not built to process it all.

It has little niches devoted to the F21 splinter brands like Heritage 1981 and For Love 21, and then shoes, accessories, lingerie, a full wall of Daisy Dukes, probably more that we missed. (We cannot stress enough how -- with the KIIS DJs pumping really loud music, gaggles of screechy teeny-boppers, people everywhere, and fitting room lines 30 deep -- unpalatable the grand opening was to us, and how we just wanted to get the hell out of there almost the minute we stepped inside.) The second floor has a gift shop that's filled with trinkety little goodies, assorted beauty products and accoutrements, and fun but junky stuff, like bath sponges with little stuffed sheepheads on them. Cute overload.

And, of course, it's jam-packed with everything you know and love, or hate, about Forever 21. Knockoffs for days, including bags "inspired by" Proenza Schouler and Chanel, YSL-esque platform shoes; $4 tees; cheap jewelry and accessories; and cute, disposably priced approximations of all the latest trends. A copyright infringement lawyer's wet dream.

The overwhelming humongosity of it means it's not the kind of place that you'd just pop into, looking for a specific item. You've got to go in all zen-like and calm, and be willing to commit a big chunk of time if you want to see it all, almost like Disneyland.
· Forever 21 [Official Site]

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