When you think high fashion, Forever 21 isn’t exactly what pops into your head. But the new flagship store at 540 North Michigan may change your mind. The huge location is sleek, shiny, sophisticated and stocked with the latest colorful gear from Forever 21’s newest collection. The grand opening of this behemoth was celebrated in fittingly grand style with a runway show, featuring models from Elite Model Management, and was attended by contestants of “America’s Next Top Model,” giving the event a Hollywood vibe. There was a red carpet to strut, style consultants on hand to give advice, and great music pumping through the speakers.
The new location is a step up for the retail giant. They have long been relegated to the teeny-bopper mall-rat genre of clothing stores, but the sleek new space proves they are coming into their own here in Chicago. Their spring collection features casual chic looks that, while still young, carry more maturity and sophistication than ever before. Cute accessories and easy-layering pieces are the staples for the women’s collection, with one-season trends peppered in between. While there are still plenty of faux vintage t-shirts (touting prowess at beer pong and root-beer-drinking), there are also office-worthy sweaters, dresses and lots of casual summer wear.
The accessory section at the new flagship may be the most impressive area of the whole store, offering a variety of pieces to spice up any ensemble. But don’t limit yourself to just one section—the shoes, hats, scarves, bags, sunglasses, jewelry and expanded lingerie selection add multiple layers to this store, making it a one-stop-shopping destination for all summer wardrobe needs.
The current men’s collection surprisingly blends the classic styles of Banana Republic and the playfulness of Urban Outfitters, all at a much more reasonable price. Men who may not have considered putting Forever 21 on their shopping agenda might think again once they see the expanded men’s section. This is not just a place to hold your girlfriend’s purse anymore. (Beth Dugan)
XXI Forever, 540 North Michigan, (312)595-0489, forever21.com