Social Responsibility

Just as a consumer has choices, at Forever 21 we take our business choices seriously, including the way we obtain the products we sell. We strive to have a positive impact not only within our stores and corporate family, but also upon the environment and on the hundreds of vendor manufacturing facilities throughout the world and their employees.

We see these choices as part of a work in progress as we constantly strive to improve in each of these areas.

Two female models in teal sportswear collection

I. Protecting the Environment

- We provide our customers with 100% recyclable and reusable plastic and paper bags in many of our stores (stores only located within the US).

- BYOB In-store Program: For each customer using their own bag to carry out a purchase, we will donate $0.05 to American Forests Association.

- Our headquarters, located in Los Angeles, is one of California’s largest solar power installations.

- We will continue to transport products via sea, versus airfreight in order to help reduce carbon emissions.

- Our new stores include energy efficient lighting systems to vastly cut down on energy usage. Shipment boxes are recycled daily at our distribution centre and in stores.

- We are currently developing clothing collections using environmentally friendly materials.

II. Worker Rights & Protection

We insist that our product suppliers ensure that their employees work in a safe and healthy environment and that their legal rights are respected and protected. We also share the goal of eliminating child labour and forced labour.

Vendor Audit Program: To meet these goals, all of our suppliers must agree to our Social Responsibility Code of Conduct. In addition, our Corporate Social Responsibility program also includes our Vendor Audit Program. Whilst our trusted vendors have worked with us for a number of years, we ask all suppliers and vendors to provide factory contact information and for all factories to participate in the audit program.

Two female models in teal sportswear collection

Important Elements of this Program:

We have a comprehensive agreement with each of our vendors and their factories under which they promise to utilize legally qualified workers, pay them wages which are fair and legal in their jurisdiction, and provide an environment that complies with their legal requirements. Our agreement also covers issues of time off, free association and movement rights, non-discrimination, environmental protection and security. Our agreement expressly prohibits human trafficking and the use of forced, slave, child or prison labour, or labour from closed or freedom-restricting countries.

These Vendor Compliance Standards were developed to comply with industry standards, local labour laws, the UN Declaration of Human Rights and the ILO Core Conventions.

We use highly trained factory auditors to enforce our strict social standards and requirements. The auditors accomplish this enforcement by conducting inspections of our active non-US Vendor manufacturing facilities on a random basis to ensure the Social Vendor Compliance Standards are understood, respected and followed.

After each factory visit, auditors prepare a written evaluation of the factory, including any action items which may need correction prior to the next visit. We also do our best to provide ongoing information, advice, and support on fair labour, health and safety, and related issues.

Our goal is to work with the Vendors and their factories to help them improve and ensure consistent compliance.

We believe this process assists in guarding against potential unsafe conditions, workplace injuries or mistreatment and discrimination, and also results in an overall improvement in our Vendors’ factory efficiency and product quality standards.

Two female models in teal sportswear collection

Vendor Agreement:

Our suppliers are required to adhere to human rights and safety standards.

We do not manufacture any of our merchandise. We instead, purchase goods from vendors who are required to follow our policies and procedures which expressly prohibit the use of forced, slave, child, prison labour, or labour from closed or freedom-restricted countries (i.e., the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (“North Korea”), to manufacture the clothing, footwear, and accessories we sell. We have a rigorous vetting process when we first start business with new vendors. We also require all of our vendors to sign our Vendor Agreement (the Vendor Agreement Relating to Compliance with Labour and Employment Laws (VARCLEL)). By agreeing to the terms of the Vendor Agreement, suppliers confirm, among other things, that they will expressly:

- Not discriminate on the basis of national origin, race, sex, marital status, religion, age, disability, medical condition, veteran status and sexual orientation in any employment action relating to their workforce;

- Not employ or utilize forced, slave, child or prison labour, or labour from closed or freedom-restricted countries;

- Comply with all local wage and work hour laws – including paying at least the minimum wage, paying for overtime, etc.;

- Provide a safe workplace and work environment;

- Provide a clean and habitable workspace;

- Maintain adequate insurance (workers' compensation, disability, etc.); and

- Not subcontract any work to other facilities.

Female in black yoga set

III. Ethical Sourcing

Fur-Free Policy: We established a permanent fur-free policy in 2004, here we worked with PETA to meet guidelines to ensure we avoid cruelty to animals and continue to look for ways to improve.

Ban on Angora: We also established a permanent ban on Angora (rabbit hair) in 2014, working with PETA to meet guidelines to ensure we avoid cruelty to animals and continue to look for ways to improve.

No Mohair: We also instituted a permanent ban on mohair effective 1st January 2020, as a result of reports that goat farmers in South Africa, where a significant percentage of mohair comes from, injure or abuse the goats.

The Cotton Pledge: We are fully aligned with the spirit and purpose of Responsible Sourcing Network’s Cotton Pledge. We signed the Cotton Pledge effective October 7, 2016. Our commitment to this issue is not new, since 2013, we have worked to ensure that none of our third-party vendors knowingly obtain their supply of cotton from Uzbekistan.

IV. Charity Programs

At Forever 21, one of our core values is to encourage giving and to lend a helping hand to those who need it most. We are always finding ways to help our local communities and partner with charities of every scale. Over the years, we have carried products that have helped different organizations, such as Give to Love, Love to Give. We have also developed collaborative products with proceeds which benefit charitable organizations. A current exciting project is with Project Level to develop a collaborative line of products. Project Level is an amazing non-profit organization which nurtures the creative needs of at-risk and underserved inner-city youth in the San Francisco Bay area. When we partner with an organization on a specific collection, a portion of the proceeds is donated to the designated charity.

We continue to support Boys & Girls Clubs and Girls Inc. with significant donations. At home, we are an avid and consistent supporter of the local community, located near our corporate headquarters in Los Angeles. For example, we funded college scholarships and supported summer camp opportunities for local youths within the neighbourhood and continue to support the Los Angeles Police Department’s Hollenbeck PAL Program.

Kids jogger sets - black and white imagery

California Transparency in Supply Chains Act:

We are committed to conducting business in an ethical manner and we expect our suppliers to share this same commitment. To this end, we have a global ethical program in place to prevent abusive, exploitive or illegal conditions in the workplace and prevent human trafficking and slavery. All suppliers are required to participate in the program as a condition of doing business with our company.

We regularly evaluate and address human trafficking and slavery risks in product supply chains through in-house inspectors who are tasked with investigating internal or third-party reports of this nature.

We conduct audits of our suppliers through in-house and third-party inspectors who evaluate compliance with company standards for trafficking and slavery, using both announced and unannounced audits.

In the United States, we work cooperatively with the Department of Labour on suppliers’ compliance with wage and hours laws.

We require our direct suppliers to certify that materials incorporated into products they supply to us, comply with laws and company standards regarding slavery and human trafficking.

We maintain internal accountability standards and procedures for employees and contractors who fail to meet company standards regarding slavery and human trafficking.

We provide training to specific employees and management on detecting and enforcing procedures against slavery and human trafficking.