Top executives at Los Angeles-based clothier Forever 21 underscored the company's plans for expansion in Latin America as they formally opened a new corporate headquarters in Lincoln Heights.
The cheap-chic retailer, which has more than 500 stores worldwide, said it's planning its next expansion in Costa Rica and Brazil. The company has one store in Bogotá and has plans for seven more throughout Colombia.
As hundreds of employees stood outside the new headquarters on Wednesday, Forever 21 founder and Chief Executive 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 have been "humbling," Chang said.
On hand for the ribbon cutting were bankers, community religious leaders, Councilman Ed Reyes and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.
"This is good for L.A.," Villaraigosa said. Los Angeles is the fashion manufacturing capital of the United States, with fashion-related companies employing more than 100,000 people and generating more than $13 billion in annual revenue, Villaraigosa said.
Chang will be joining Villaraigosa on a trade mission to South America on Nov. 24.
In addition to housing Forever 21's headquarters, the 1.9-million-square-foot Lincoln Heights facility will include distribution, e-commerce and warehouse space.
The headquarters was previously in Vernon.