BABEWATCH: Forever 21′s Linda and Esther Chang

April 6th, 2010 | 14 comments | Posted by Jen

Names: Linda Chang and Esther Chang

Ages: 28 and 23

Occupations: Forever 21′s marketing and visuals department heads, respectively

Linda and Esther Chang are the daughters of Don and Jin Sook Chang, the Korean American founders of one of our favorite places on Earth, Forever 21. (Where else can you get a cute, fashion-forward $12 dress, we ask you? A $12 dress!) Like the company’s wares, the Chang sisters are young, fresh, and adorbs. They were recently profiled by the LA Times’ Booth Moore, where we learned the following:

  • They’re best friends.
  • They’re both Ivy League-educated.
  • They work for the family business, which opened its first store in 1984 and, by the end of that year, had grown its sales from $35,000 to $700,000.
  • They go to church with their parents on Sunday.

We tend to hate on people like this–i.e. people who please their Hardass Asian Parents all the time rather than disappoint–but with the Chang sisters, we just can’t. Their devotion to their family and the family business is just so earnest (older sis Linda says things like, “I love it when people come out of our stores being so happy”). And the girls themselves are just too cute.

Then, of course, it all goes back to the fact that the Chang sisters represent the $12 dress. The $12 dress!

[LA Times: Meet Forever 21’s stylish sisters]

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14 Responses to “BABEWATCH: Forever 21′s Linda and Esther Chang”

  1. divinestyler says:

    Ever wonder why that dress is $12?

    Forever 21 has been taken to the California Supreme Court regarding its unfair labor practices repeatedly. Guadalupe Hernandez explained she earned, “$4 per hour, working 10 hours a day, 6 days a week in a factory with no running water and no bathroom.”

    http://www.39thandbroadway.com/hate-21/

    One wonders whether this makes the Chang family more suitable as “Disgrasian of the weak” rather than be lauded. Being Ivy League educated, they should be aware of the labor laws that Forever 21 routinely violate. Being Christian, one would think this family would have a little more empathy to have some basic things like running water and bathrooms for the people that produce that fashion forward $12 dress.

    I don’t mean to be hater mind you – Perhaps profiling some of the wonderful folks at KIWA (http://www.kiwa.org/) would be more appropriate than a company like Forever 21 – known for it’s employment of sweatshop labor?

  2. Jen says:

    Have they been taken to the California Supreme Court repeatedly for unfair labor practices? I’m only aware of the 2001 boycott that resulted in a settlement out of court between Forever 21 and the Garment Worker Center, Sweatshop Watch, and the Asian Pacific American Legal Center, in which workers were paid back wages and the company committed to maintaining lawful working conditions (http://www.corpwatch.org/article.php?id=792).

    I appreciate the link you sent. I’ll have to do more reading re: sweatshop labor overseas and come to my own conclusions. As for the post’s accusations of designer copyright infringement, I really can’t take that seriously at all. One of the notable “designers” who has sued Forever 21 is Gwen Stefani, who is a designer ripoff artist nonpareil (http://disgrasian.com/2007/07/original-gwen/). Another is Anna Sui, who’s never made an original garment in her life; all she does is rehash what Anita Pallenberg wore in the 60′s season after season. And I don’t know about the Christian proselytizing thing. I have a friend who works at the corporation and I’ll have to ask her, but that unsubstantiated detail sounds sensational and made-up.

  3. Cindy says:

    Interested in your research Jen…

    Curious how being Christian would cause them to have more empathy than another.

  4. AsianGirlProf says:

    Hello! Long-time reader, first-time commenter, as they say…

    To echo divinestyler– You should also check out the film Made in L.A.: http://www.madeinla.com/

    I don’t remember if they mention the company by name in the documentary, but I think it’s about that lawsuit against Forever 21. I do remember the case being settled out of court. Call me a cynic, but I would guess that Mr. Chang merely moved the manufacturing of his clothes elsewhere, where he could continue his unfair labor practices without regulation or penalty. Still, that doesn’t undermine the fact that these workers, as well as the three Asian American women who represented them, seriously kick ass.

    So these are the real Amazians: JoAnn Lo, Kimi Lee, and Julie Su.
    http://www.madeinla.com/about/people
    (Scroll to the bottom to get their bios.)

  5. larrylamborghini says:

    This article seems quite current on FOREVER 21.
    http://www.39thandbroadway.com/hate-21/
    I have lived in (Garment Dist) Downtown L.A. and have had many friends in “the industry” and unanimously have heard negative things (concerning business practices towards labor and ripoffs). That being said , that’s STATUS QUO in the shitty fashion industry, so it’s hardly anything new. As for being Christian and having empathy, it sure has not played out much in the WAR STARTING department historically.

  6. larrylamborghini says:

    The quotes at the bottom of the article (link above) from former employees seem telling.

  7. Jen says:

    @larrylamborghini Telling of what though? I read the comments, and while the complaints of getting short breaks and the hassle of having to have your bag searched at the end of the night make working at Forever 21–the store, that is–sound like any other shitjob, they don’t exactly detail worker abuse. NOT that I’m defending the company. Jeez, I just thought these girls were cute. But srsly, if anyone has more real information about Forever 21′s labor violations beyond the 2001 boycott/lawsuit, by all means send it over.

  8. larrylamborghini says:

    Well, the comments that I thought were telling were by the former managers and employees. Please do not take any of this as an attack on the girls, as it obviously is NOT. Since I have posted that I have talked to a more than a few people (in the fashion industry in L.A.) again who echo the sentiment that they run an exploitative house (which leads me to believe that it is somewhat true or that they are in need of some serious P.R.). The excessive religious shit (while marketing skimpy clothing, nice one LOL) is irksome, but it is their company to do as they like…so whatever. The girls are CUTE, undeniably. I know you two to be FAIR and NO FANS of exploitation (See Dov Charney~ American Apparel , etc) but I think this particular company might not be worthy of instant endorsement simply due to Asian owners. Again, not saying that is what it is..just a possible perception? :)

  9. larrylamborghini says:

    It does look like recently they MAY have gotten the message on the copying.
    http://industry.bnet.com/retail/10008316/forever-21-goes-gaga-for-its-first-designer-collaboration-with-brian-lichtenberg/
    50 lawsuits for copying/design theft in 4 years is high even in an industry full of trendy, greedy opportunists.

    Love you Ladies!
    John 3:16

  10. Jen says:

    @LL <3 your due diligence. Love ya back!

  11. Maeko says:

    They are so darn cute.

    I love that their companies do bring access to high label style to the masses, however, I wish they would be more like H&M and concentrate more on the quality of their product construction.

    I have bought way too many outfits there that disintegrated in the wash after 1 wear.

    UGH.

    I also hate that they are my age and younger (the 23 year old!) and they are major successful and I’m just an hourly paid loozah. Blargh. Maybe I was born into the wrong family.

  12. yellOHpride says:

    I had actually known about the Bible verse on the bottom of the shopping bags for a while now. A friend of mine had just gone on a shopping spree and read in some fashion blog about the Bible verse, grabbed the plastic bag and came running over to my place saying she was never going to shop there again.

    It is kind of sad if the allegations and lawsuits towards overseas and US sweatshops has any validity to them.

  13. [...] 21 – check it out on the LA Times (April 2010 – front page of the Image section), Disgrasian’s Babe Watch post, and The Daily [...]

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