The surprising best way to shop Forever 21

Forever 21 photo by Shandi-lee.

Forever 21: home to hot dresses for the cluuubknock-off American Apparel velour bodysuits for $15.80, and tank tops that cost less than your round-trip MetroCard to get to the store itself. Out of all the cheap clothing chains, it is the most cutting edge in terms of fashion, featuring original, yet wearable designs. However, it’s also haphazardly stocked, fraught with long lines, and justifiably clogged with dazed tourists and natives.

Oddly enough for this native New Yorker, the solution lies in Times Square. The four-level, 90,000 square foot flagship Forever 21 located at 1540 Broadway in the heart of capitalism’s jizz is as neat, sparsely populated, and well-stocked as if you broke in to go shopping in the middle of the night. That’s because this mega-Forever 21 is indeed open to the public until 2am nightly. You can thank my penchant for the Q train (Times Square to Brooklyn in three stops? Yes, always!) and bout of unemployment (shopping at midnight on a Wednesday…) for this wonderful discovery.

Despite the curse or privilege of these circumstances, there is nothing shame-worthy about breezing through elbow-free aisles, not waiting in line for a dressing room, taking in as many items as you want, and then not waiting in line to pay. I imagined that these conditions were a fluke: shouldn’t there be a rowdy drunk contingent or some homeless individuals trying to sleep amongst the leggy mannequins? On a recent excursion, I asked my surprisingly chipper cashier whether I had missed out on the crazies that night, and was informed that the craziest people come during the daytime hours.

Out of the eighteen items I hauled to the fitting room, I settled on a 1970s-style printed maxi-skirt for $17.90. It sits high on my waist, and would go well with a crop-top or chunky sweater. As long as you don’t mind a potentially sketchy subway ride home and a weekday morning shopping hangover, you can satisfy your broke-ass budget without the hassle.

11 Comment

  • PREACH IT! Also, important to note, the Times Square location is the only spot in NY that carries Faith 21, their plus size line.

    • I was just going to say the same thing. As much as I hate going to Times Square, I do it occasionally for my cheap fat lady clothes.

  • Low prices at Forever 21: brought to you by the extremely “shame-worthy” practices of sweatshop labor and the theft of original designs from independent designers.

    • Thank you, Liz. I try to be socially conscious in my postings, so I appreciate when someone can one-up me.

      Do you (or anyone else!) know of places to buy cheap clothing that we don’t have to feel guilty about?

      • I usually go the consignment store route because I have found it to be cost prohibitive and migraine inducing to find a stores that sell clothes that are eco friendly, anti-sweatshop, etc AND cute. So even though the clothes sold there had questionable origins to begin with, at least I can give them a second life!

        • That’s what I typically try to do as well. I really hope some company starts mass-producing some cute, reasonably priced, union-made clothes soon.

          [Humming the Union label song]

    • the sweatshop thing? yes, it’s bad and we are complicit in that and should think about how to do that less.

      but “original”? my a**. nothing comes from nothing. fashion designers who scream theft need to hustle harder. the good ‘borrow’, the great steal. see you in the racks, boo.

  • Another low traffic excellent shopping spot: H&M on 125th street.

  • I just went there for the first time on Friday at 5pm for an after work shopping trip, I was nervous it would be insane but it was by far the best Forever 21 experience I’ve had! It’s so well organized, and not crowded.

  • My favorite is hitting the Soho store first thing in the morning on a Saturday. EMPTY.