Don’t be fooled by the appropriately aged thirty-year-old model strutting her pregnant belly in the new Forever 21 ad campaign to launch their ‘Love 21‘ maternity line. Although the company’s reps claim, “Forever 21 did not create, design or distribute Love 21 Maternity to target or appeal specifically to pregnant teens. Any relationship between teen pregnancy rates and the locations of our stores is unintentional,” it can’t be pure coincidence that the collection will only be launched in five states, with the highest pregnancy rates: Texas, Utah, Alaska, Arizona and California. Whom do they think they’re kidding?
Clearly, the ‘Forever 21’ name implies that their apparel is targeted for twenty-somethings, but the chain’s demographic is largely comprised of teenage shoppers looking to buy the latest trends at a dirt-cheap price. The company says they are trying to expand their demographic and appeal to a wider variety of ages by introducing a maternity line. But, all of the items in the Love 21 collection have a price point of $20 or less, and they make maternity clothing available to teens in a familiar setting in which they’ll be comfortable making purchases to befit their burgeoning bellies.
Of course, we can’t blame the easy access to maternity clothing for teen pregnancy, but is it responsible marketing to showcase trendy, affordable maternity apparel and accessories, romanticizing it by making it look super chic on a hot model, in a setting known for catering to young girls and teens? Or, is it opportunistic, especially given that the line is debuting in states known for their high rates of teen pregnancy?
We can’t truly believe that this fact is “pure coincidence” as senior marketing manager of Forever 21 stores, Linda Chang suggests – especially in this economy, where marketers are trying everything they can to target buyers and succeed at making big bucks.
Further, do we really need a practically disposable line of maternity clothing to crop up in any venue? Why must Forever 21 add to their already superfluous one-time-wear line of poor quality apparel? The ‘Love 21’ line is being touted as cheap and for temporary (nine month) use only. There are so many greener ways to dress stylishly during the nine months of pregnancy. Even if appropriately aged pregnant women are the ones who end up purchasing this line, no one will benefit, especially not the planet.