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The Times Square Forever 21—the biggest on the East Coast—opened this morning at 10am. Shortly thereafter the first teenage girl walked in, and thus a legend was born. Whoever she might be, you can just picture her texting her friends back home, "In giant F21. 10x the size of ours. Never leaving."
And it's just as easy to imagine her frustrated mom or sibling standing next to a display case celebrating the West Village and going, "Caitlin, if this is the closest I get to seeing the Village today I will seriously kill you."
At 91,257 square feet, the Forever 21 is a behemoth. It feels like it could absorb the entire population of Times Square on a Saturday in June and still not be crowded. It feels like you could spend a full day in there and not get bored. It feels like the company could install a roller rink in the basement and still have room for all the clothes, including the many store exclusives. It's freakish and amazing, and it definitely does not care if you think it sucks.
Which is not to say that the space is only for tourists. Forever 21 plans to keep the store open till 2am nightly, meaning that locals will wind up there in the wee hours. And because it's the city's flagship, it will offer a bigger and edgier selection than other Manhattan locations. Enter on the ground level for classic cheap, trendy contemporary Forever 21 styles. Down the escalator, you'll find a huge makeup section and metric tons of jewelry. Another escalator takes you to the third sub-floor, home to menswear and a children's section dominated by an oversized tree house. And yet another flight down brings you to the bottom floor, which was cleared out for the opening party when we stopped by last night. Sans clothing but with mirrored and studded walls (it's where the Gold Stud Room will go), the space felt like a wedding hall—a big one.
Scattered throughout the store are display cases dedicated to various New York neighborhoods. Mannequins with shopping bags and a small dog represent Soho; preppy menswear under falling leaves stand for the West Village. There's a genuine NYC taxi cab parked in the basement, but our favorite display was the one for the Meatpacking District, which consists of butcher scales bearing stacks of tops and accessories. So the meat's been replaced with clothes? Sounds exactly right.
All day, F21 has big opening festivities planned. The first 1000 people get gift cards worth anything from $10 to $210, and staffers will be handing out umbrellas, water bottles, and other freebies throughout the day. They'll also raffle off custom beach cruisers and give shoppers free manicures, and they've set up "paparazzi photo booths" around the store for anyone who wants to memorialize the occasion.
· Forever 21 Takeover of Times Square Begins Tomorrow [Racked NY]
· Inside the Times Square Forever 21: Signage, but No Clothes Yet [Racked NY]
· Countdown to Forever 21's Time Square Domination Begins Now [Racked NY]