Forever 21, forever Israeli
I know that fashion is usually Jessica’s territory, but I couldn’t pass this one up.
The Forever 21 youth oriented international fashion chain has spent the past few months getting ready to break into the Israeli market with a two-story flagship store in Tel Aviv’s Azrieli Mall.
But the veteran clothiers – strategically going up against H&M here in Israel – never anticipated the reaction the opening of the store would prompt from the apparently fashion-starved young Israeli public. According to Ynet, some 4,000 people have been showing up each day since the store opened last week, leaving huge piles of clothes and beverage cans scattered around the store.
The clothes racks were in utter disorder. It was difficult to find a single stand with the same item in different sizes, as one would expect to find in any organized fashion chain, apart from several racks that were out of the shoppers’ reach.
Customers were seen trying on clothes outside the fitting rooms and throwing them on the floor in complete mess… Many of the items, like bras, were sold out on the very first day and the entire store appeared to be out of control.
“It looks like the scene of a terror attack, Heaven forbid,” one of the customers said to a saleswoman. The latter responded, “More like a war.”
Another customer mumbled, “It looks like a second-hand store, a market.” The saleswoman replied, “You’re right.”
I guess they’ve never been to the Carmel Market in Tel Aviv where protocol is a dirty word, or for that matter, to Filene’s Basement in Boston.
When I lived there, you were taking your life into your hands by venturing to the discounted bottom floor of the clothing store in downtown Boston. Women would be slugging it out over hand bags, and trying on blouses and dresses in the middle of the aisles. The goings on at Forever 21, detailed in the Ynet story, seem positively tame by comparison
“There was a woman who wanted to take a bracelet off a stand and just ripped it. People are stepping on the clothes. It was organized in the morning, I swear.”
“We’re really trying, but the customers are storming the store and leaving clothes on the floor. We no longer know what belongs where. I’m really sorry.”
A representative from the chain took the onslaught in stride, explaining that they’ve learned that Israelis are the world leaders in the number of items bought at the chain: All over the world the average is two to three items per person, while in Israel it’s seven and a half items per person.
“Now it’s clear why we experienced this mess. A girl who wants to buy seven items has to try on 20. As there is no available fitting room, she tries it on outside, creating a mess.”
The short-term solution is to bring in more sales help, especially from Japan, where similar behavior took place at Forever 21 stores. However, as a store rep said, “In Japan the stores were stormed too, but they are organized people and put everything back in place neatly. The Israelis aren’t as organized.”
Welcome to Tel Aviv, Forever 21.