American fast-fashion brand Forever 21 has marked the launch of its new store in 313@Somerset by throwing down the gauntlet to its rivals.
Shoppers at the store can pick up a top-to-toe outfit for under $80.
'For $79, (a customer) can buy a top, a pair of jeans and shoes and she might still have loose change for accessories,' Larry Meyer, Forever 21's executive vice-president, told Urban after the opening of its four-storey, 16,000 sq ft flagship last month.
Usually, the least you would expect to pay for such an outfit would be $100.
Forever 21, whose first store opened in 1984 in Los Angeles, has more than 400 outlets in 14 countries and plans to expand in Asia.
Here, it also has a 4,000 sq ft store in Wisma Atria, which opened in 2004, and a three-year-old 7,000 sq ft store in VivoCity.
It may open three to five more outlets each in Singapore, Thailand and Indonesia, said Meyer.
There is also good news for Singapore guys with an eye for cheap chic.
Forever 21's overseas stores, including the one in Kuala Lumpur's posh Pavilion mall, have been stocking menswear since 2006.
There are plans to do the same here.
'At 24,000 sq ft, the flagship Malaysian store is far larger than the Somerset one. When we get a space of over 20,000 sq ft, we will introduce menswear,' said Meyer.
Forever 21 is not without its detractors though. One criticism that has dogged the brand is that it tends to reference designs by other brands.
In 2007, designers Diane von Furstenberg, Gwen Stefani and Anna Sui sued the company for copying their designs. Forever 21 has since settled with the designers for undisclosed terms.
In response, Meyer said the brand is now more careful in screening its designs, which are produced by an in-house team of designers.
'What happened fell through our control because of the thousands of styles we handle at a time,' he said.
There have also been gripes that the quality of its clothes is not as good as that of some other high-street labels - a complaint that Meyer said is no longer valid.
'That is an old view and a misconception when the brand started,' he said.
'We have worked hard to ensure that we now have the proper balance of quality and price.'
NEW EVERY DAY
Forever 21 sets itself apart with its assortment of well-priced products that 'arrive every day', he added.
'Every brand is unique. What is within our control is to ensure that each time a customer visits, he or she finds that our offering meets his or her standards.'
The fastest-selling items here are tops followed by jeans, dresses and accessories.
Despite its budget offerings, the new store in 313@Somerset sports a stylish interior.
For instance, the accessories section has see-through chandeliers and tiered displays.
As Meyer put it: 'We wanted a boutique environment for customers, offering them tomorrow's trends at yesterday's prices.'
This article was first published in Urban, The Straits Times.