Top executives at Los Angeles-based clothier Forever 21 lauded plans for expansion in Latin America on Wednesday as they formally opened a new corporate headquarters in Lincoln Heights.
The cheap-chic retailer with more than 500 stores worldwide said it’s planning its next expansion in Costa Rica and Brazil. The company currently has one store open in Bogotá and plans for seven more throughout Colombia.
As hundreds of employees stood outside the new headquarters, Forever 21 founder and CEO Don Chang, said, “Together we can make Forever 21 No. 1.”
He recalled opening his first store, then known as Fashion 21, on Figueroa Street in nearby Highland Park in 1984. The vast changes the company has made since then has been “humbling,” Chang said.
On hand for the ribbon cutting were bankers, community religious leaders, City Councilman Ed Reyes and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.
“This is good for L.A.,” Villaraigosa said. Forever 21 “is the fastest growing apparel company in the world.”
Los Angeles is the manufacturing capital of the United States, with fashion-related companies employing more than 100,000 people and generating more than $13 billion in annual revenues, Villaraigosa said.
“In Los Angeles, it’s critical to grow the fashion industry,” Villaraigosa said. “My job as mayor is to promote L.A. businesses and to push the great enterprises we have.”
Chang will be joining Villaraigosa on his trade mission to South America on Nov. 24.
In addition to housing Forever 21’s headquarters, the 1.9 million-square-foot facility in Lincoln heights will include the company’s distribution, e-commerce and warehouse space. The headquarters was previously located on South Alameda Street in Vernon.
During a brief tour of the new facility, Forever 21 President Alex Ok said the company made $3.9 billion in sales this year.
For the Record, 3:48 p.m. Nov. 14: An earlier version of this post said the headquarters previously were in Los Angeles. They were in Vernon.
Follow Adolfo Flores on Twitter.