Hit for Misses
Vital Stats: Don Chang, about 50, of Forever 21 Inc.
Company: Los Angeles-based retail clothing company specializing in trendy, youthful women's wear
2004 Sales Projections: more than $600 million
Full Service: Emigrating from South Korea in 1981, Don Chang's first job in the United States was at a gas station, where he realized the nicest cars that came in belonged to those in the Los Angeles fashion industry. In 1984, with the money he saved from working up to three jobs at once, Don and his wife, Jin Sook Chang, opened their first Forever 21 store on Figueroa Street in downtown Los Angeles.
Mass Consumption: In malls, Don saw limited options for those without a lot of money to keep up with new trends. His solution: Offer style with everyday low prices to "make more people happy."
"This is definitely the American Dream."
Cheap Thrills: Bucking the industry standard of high markups, Forever 21 appeals to fashion- and finance-conscious teens-and women-with its daily delivered variety of sporty, sexy and business-conservative clothing and accessories, many for less than $20. Jin Sook, a former hair designer, is chief merchandiser.
House of Style: The prices might be bargain-basement, but the stores are clean, loftlike environments resembling upscale boutiques. The ambience is furthered by ritzy locations in retail centers like Fashion Island in Newport Beach, California.
Crossing Borders: With 176 stores already open in 25 states and Canada, Forever 21 opened its first store outside of North America in the United Arab Emirates last November. For style-savvy guys, a men's version of the store launches in 2005.