Teen clothing line launches maternity line: Smart marketing or icky?

Forever 21, a popular teen clothing company has launched a new maternity line.

From Time.com:

“Teen favorite clothing chain Forever 21 is facing controversy over its new maternity line, Love 21, which is launching in five states—Texas, California, Arizona, Alaska and Utah, this month.”

“The line is launching in three states with traditionally high rates of teen pregnancy. But Forever 21’s executive vice president, Larry Meyer, said any connection between the locations of stores carrying the line and pregnancy rates is a coincidence.”

Time.com wondered if the maternity clothing line would glamorize pregnancy for teens but I don’t think they are trying to convince girls to get pregnant. I think sadly they are responding to a market that they think is not being served. I think their research is telling them there are a whole lot of pregnant teenagers who don’t want to dress like 30-year-old women who are pregnant.

I think they are responding to the market instead of trying to create one.

It occurs to me that Gap has maternity as well, but I don’t recall anyone dinging them for it. Also I think Old Navy offers some maternity.

So what do you think: Is it inappropriate for a teen clothing line to create a maternity line?  OR hey, pregnant teens have got to dress too and they don’t want to look like old ladies doing it?

Do you buy the VP’s argument that they didn’t intentionally start the line in several states with high rates of teen pregnancy?

Is there a difference between Old Navy and Gap offering maternity vs Forever 21? Or is that a double standard?

40 comments Add your comment


July 22nd, 2010
2:24 pm

I think teens who are pregnant should be worrying about more important things than if they are fashionable or not. If they were so worried about being able to wear fashionable clothes, they should have been more thoughtful about their behaviors. If looking like an ‘old lady’ gives some teen pause about the possibility of getting pregnant, I think that is a really good thing.

As far as Old Navy and Gap both serve larger customer groups – kids up through adults- so having maternity at those stores is not a lot different than Target having a maternity section.

Don’t buy the VP’s argument at all. Of course they did marketing research and launched in those places that would be most profitable. It would make absolutely no sense for them to launch in states with a low teen pregnancy rate unless they wanted to avoid this very criticism. They are a business after all.


July 22nd, 2010
2:27 pm

As someone who was a teen mom, I can say that I would have appreciated having some kind of options. Keep in mind my son is now 15 and I lived in a small town when I was pregnant so there were very few options for maternity clothes no matter your age (we didn’t even have a Target at that time). I mostly resorted to pants that I could roll the waistband down and large shirts. I knew people were staring at me for being pregnant, not the kind of clothes I wore. But it still would have been nice to have something that wasn’t old ladyish. Does having cute clothes encourage teen pregnancy? I don’t think anything could make the average teenager want to be pregnant but there are some not-to-normal teenagers out there who might think it’s cute until their body is out of shape, their legs swell and they can’t sleep due to the heartburn. But I doubt it’s the maternity clothes that made them go have sex or choose to not have an abortion.

I do think a lot of stores now carry trendier maternity clothes and this store sees a marketing opportunity. My brother-in-laws’ girlfriend is 21 and pregnant right now and I know she goes for the younger/trendier maternity clothes. Forever 21’s demographics probably are somewhere in the 13-25 year old age group. There are women who are not teenagers in that group who get pregnant and have shopped there previously so the company is likely trying to tap that market segment just as Old Navy and Target are. My guess is that they started out west because that’s where they have more market saturation there.


July 22nd, 2010
2:41 pm

I am a 32 yo with a 9 month old boy. Last year when pregnant it was really annoying not being able to shop for nice maternity cloth specially because I am an extremely petite 5′1″ size 0. All the places offering maternity cloth had size XL which was not only big but very unbecoming to anyone.
Ironically, the only place where I could get some clothing was Forever 21 and H&M and this was last year when Forever 21 didn’t have its maternity line. So, I don’t think Forever 21 wants teenagers getting pregnant it is just a response to the market.

what are you thinking?

July 22nd, 2010
3:19 pm

The folks that are worrying about this store selling clothes to teenagers are the same one that don’t want to tell their kids about being sexually active, STD’s and birth control. “if we just ignore it we won’t have to deal with it.”
If you just ignore it, you end up being a grandparent.
This is really a needed niche of marketing. Unfortunately, there are a lot of pregnant teens. it’s bad enough to be 15 and pregnant, should we have the other kids make fun of their clothes too?


July 22nd, 2010
3:22 pm

SOME FOOL IS TRYING TO MAKE $$$$ GLAMORIZING TEENAGEer having SEX…VERY OFFENSIVE…& raunchy….pregant teens have a very rough road ahead…….very rough…very stupid.


July 22nd, 2010
3:24 pm

what are you thinking?….grow up……THEN go on line..WHAT A STUPID COMMENT.


July 22nd, 2010
3:31 pm

Most of these girls got pregnant while wearing the clothes from Forever 21 (minus panties) so let them continue wearing them. Those clothes scream “I PUT OUT” so let them advertise the consequence of dressing like a little hoochie rather than a young lady.


July 22nd, 2010
3:35 pm

my comment got lost.


July 22nd, 2010
3:38 pm

I am 34, have a 2 y.o. When I was pregnant I was so upset with the maternity clothes selection. It’s either enormously expensive to buy for just a few months (pea in a pod for example) or you look like an plain old fat lady. So, I was trying to sqweeze into my regular clothes (Forever 21 is a part of them)as long as I could. I thing it’s a great idea. I hope they will spread to GA by the time I am pregnant again.


July 22nd, 2010
3:43 pm

I have many friends in their late twenties who love shopping at Forever 21. They buy sexy/trendy clothes there for nights out and when they feel like showing a little extra skin for their spouses. I guarantee that if they ended up pregnant tomorrow, they’d shop there for their maternity clothes too. Just because the store is geared for teens or young adults doesn’t mean other age groups don’t shop there. Cute maternity clothes are difficult to find and Forever 21 is obviously looking to fill a void to boost their profits. Teen pregnancy will happen regardless of the available clothing selection. It isn’t an issue…why make it one? Do you honestly think as a teen girl is spreading her legs having unprotected sex with her boyfriend that she thinks to herself, “I don’t really want to get pregnant but now that I know there is a new maternity line at Forever 21…it might not seem so bad!” Come on people…cute clothing isn’t glorifying anything and it doesn’t encourage it. All it does is afford them more clothing options in the event of a pregnancy.


July 22nd, 2010
3:43 pm

Besides the whole name Forever 21 suggests that it’s for people who are no longer 21 but are young at heart. So it’s not necessarily a teenage line.


July 22nd, 2010
3:44 pm

No, I don’t think that one store offering cute clothes for pregnant teenagers is going to encourage anyone to get pregnant. It does, however, add one more small pebble to the scale of public opinion that already leans in the direction of teen pregnancy being less and less socially unacceptable.

Teenage girls and boys are given more and more freedom, more and more leeway to dress as if they are prostitutes, talk like truck drivers and are more and more influenced in the development of their morals by what they see and hear in the media, but less and less is expected of them. I have a 12-year-old, a 14-year-old and a 16-year-old at home. They know more about sex and sex acts, birth control, STD’s, etc. at this age, than I did when I was a Freshman in college. Yet, those very same institutions (school system and media) that have informed them about all of these things so that they can make responsible choices, do not hold them responsible in any way shape or form and look the other way when they don’t.

To my mind, IT OUGHT TO BE EVEN MORE SHAMEFUL AND UNACCEPTABLE TO BE A PREGNANT TEENAGER TODAY THAN IT WAS 20 or 30 YEARS AGO. Why? Because they have condoms and birth control pills and public service announcements and sex education practically thrown at them from the age of 10 or 11 onward! These are the most educated, informed kids in history when it comes to prevention of pregnancy and safe sex. So why are they not getting it? Maybe because we let them off too easily. Maybe we need to stop worrying about “hurting their feelings” and be more concerned about how we as a society are hurting their lives.


July 22nd, 2010
3:47 pm

I think a teeneager who gets pregnant should be forced to wear “old lady” old fashioned pregnancy clothes. That would certainly be a deterrant!

Den Mother

July 22nd, 2010
3:49 pm

I am a mother of 2 in my early 30’s. I have been married for 10 years and am certainly responsible. I shop at Forever 21 for basic items: tanks, t-shirts, leggings, jewelery, etc. at bargain prices. I would have welcomed their maternity line! Yes, teenagers shop there but so do many “youthful” adults. I don’t see this as being any different from Old Navy where I bought a majority of my clothing for both pregnancies.


July 22nd, 2010
3:51 pm

I’m in my late 20s and still shop at Forever 21. Nice to know that there are maternity clothes out there for small women when I need them. :)


July 22nd, 2010
3:52 pm

Amen! Christina


July 22nd, 2010
4:02 pm

Forever 21 claims to be targeting 20somethings or older that can carry off a younger look. It is NOT supposed to be teen fashion.

They have 2 other units (Heritage 1981 and HTG 81 Kids) that target the younger crowd.

Now in the 80’s when I was a teen I didn’t dress like Madonna. I went to Lerner and it still caters to the 20something and up…hence Lerner Woman.

The parents in a snit, need to realize their children are going to the “adult” store and thus might see maternity clothes. SHEEESH!

If they are that concerned then maybe they should pull out their sewing machines and make their teens outfits. Or keep better tabs on what they are doing in their “free time”. Both of which seems to work for the Amish.


July 22nd, 2010
4:17 pm

Actually Elise if the teenager is already pregnant, what are you deterring her from?

If you want to deter multiple pregnancies, don’t allow girls to have epidurals. Worked for me. Natural childbirth was the reason I didn’t have sex again until I was married.


July 22nd, 2010
4:18 pm

I am 24 and would really appreciate some nice, well-fitting clothes that don’t all look like 50 year old ladies wore them first. Maternity clothes are UGLY and I will definitely be looking online and shopping with them if they are available.

They sell colorful condoms at the store as it is so does that mean condom companies are targeting kids? What about the flavored ones, are they trying to hustle the kids into buying them as well?

Companies only have as much power as you give them to influence you and your family.

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July 22nd, 2010
4:42 pm

I was 25 (and yes married) when I was pregnant with my 1st child. I would have LOVED to have a Forever21 maternity line back then!!! If it hadn’t been for Old Navy maternity line (which I could only find online at least back then) i would have been doomed to wear my sister in law’s old lady fugly maternity stuff. God was that stuff awful.

I think it might be just one more thing that glamorizes pregnancy anyways. From that Palin girl getting thousands from speaking engagements to People magazine publishing photos of rich teen moms, it all affects the teen’s state of mind. However, I hope (oh dear God how I hope) that good upbringing, values, communication, and vigilance will prevent my sons from getting into that kind of situation.


July 22nd, 2010
5:05 pm

mom2: I doubt your sons will ever need maternity clothes!


July 22nd, 2010
5:53 pm

Perhaps if children do not want to wear “adult” maternity clothes, they should not be doing adult sexual activity. Of course, knocking a little sense into their air-headed, hormonally challenged, “it could never happen to me” head is another story!

Must be the McDonald's

July 22nd, 2010
6:33 pm

Is it just me, or are these girls just so HOT these days?

Meanwhile, the market for shotguns sold to fathers has skyrocketed.


July 22nd, 2010
7:18 pm

catlady: oh you KNOW what I meant! :)


July 22nd, 2010
8:26 pm

Selling maternity clothes at Forever21 will make my teenager have sex because she will have cute clothes to wear. If my son plays video games he will become a terrorist. Seriously people grow up. A lot of women are size 4, 2, or 0’s these days. What options do they have for maternity clothes. I don’t happen to fit that size and am well passed the pregnancy stage of life; however, whats wrong with being stylish during any phase of your life. Did you know that putting your daughter on birth control pills or making sure you son has and knows how to use a condom also makes them have sex . LOCK em all up til their 21 then we don’t have to parent.


July 24th, 2010
8:18 am

This topic is hysterical She wasn’t worried about clothes when she got “nekkid” to get knocked up so she shouldn’t be worried about looking stylish after the fact! If she spent as much time beforehand thinking about clothes she wouldn’t be a societal burden now.


July 24th, 2010
9:05 am

These clothes are supposed to be cheaper than maternity clothes elsewhere. I know plenty of women in their late 20s who are looking to purchase affordable, well fitting maternity clothes. I’m a size 1 and had a very, very hard time finding maternity clothes that fit. I was pregnant at 29, by the way. It seems to me that they are taking advantage of an existing market. I’m honestly surprised this hasn’t happened sooner.

Anonymous for their sake today

July 24th, 2010
9:44 am

It’s capitalism folks, this is how it works. If no one buys it. It will go away.

A Traditionalist – glamorizing teen sex and pregnancy are 2 different things. Just because one CAN lead to another doesn’t mean it has to. I teach teenagers and while I know many of them ARE sexually active, I’ve only had about 10 have babies in about 13 years. I’d rather it didn’t happen, but I know that that is lower than the odds.

As for bikerchick- under the Bush administration many DID NOT receive the comprehensive sex education we did back in the 80s because schools were threatened with losing their federal funding if they taught anything other than abstinence based sex education. Was this well publicized? NO. How did I find out? When the kids had to start coming to other trusted adults (like me) to ask about birth control, STDs, etc. I know what to do, but always got them to a professional because that is the law with mandatory reporting. The worst was looking up free HIV testing with a group of girls who all made the mature decision that they needed to be tested after we studied the impact of HIV/AIDS in class.

Buck Strickland

July 24th, 2010
10:16 am

It ain’t GW’s fault, it’s their daddy’s.

Wannabe Mother

July 24th, 2010
11:08 am

Although I am not adamantly against such a clothing line, I feel that these teens are engaging in very adult behaviors and should live with the adult consequences of those actions – whether it be the responsibility that comes along with such a decision or the attire made for women who generally fill this role. Teens who make decisions that result in pregnancy would argue that they should be treated as adults. Well, if you are mature enough to engage in these behaviors, you should step up and look the way you want to be treated. The last thing we need to do is glamorize teen pregnancy. I say that not because I would judge teen mothers, but because I don’t want young women to go through terrible hardships unnecessarily, which force them to take on roles they are not ready for. I just think that by portraying pregnancy as a role for older women, it may help some to avoid a fate that can change the course of their lives.


July 24th, 2010
11:54 am

@wannabe mother: you said ” I feel that these teens are engaging in very adult behaviors and should live with the adult consequences of those actions – whether it be the responsibility that comes along with such a decision or the attire made for women who generally fill this role. ”

Does that mean that non-teen mothers-to-be are condemned to having to wear maternity fashions by Tentmakers-r-us? Around my 7th month, I was sooo tired of looking like the Goodyear blimp. I would have appreciated being able to find some attractive clothes that didn’t resemble muumuus.

Folks, this is a weak correlation. Good-looking maternity clothes will NOT make your teen-aged children go out and have sex.


July 24th, 2010
12:06 pm

Just what we need…something ELSE to promote teen pregnancy. Now they’re going to think they look cute with that big belly, and not think about the next 18 years of raising a child.


July 24th, 2010
12:10 pm

We SHOULD be teaching abstinence rather than birth control. When I was a kid in school, it was a very few girls that got pregnant. Abstinence not only cuts down on the birthrate, but also in the spread of STDs. Unprotected sex these days is a matter of life and death.

Anonymous for their sake today

July 24th, 2010
2:11 pm

Mom – I don’t know how old you are, but I’m 38 (and if you’re a mom to kids currently I’m guessing we’re about the same age) and the stats haven’t changed much since I was in high school.


About 50% of teenagers will have sex. They’re going to do it, I only remember 1 friend in high school who wasn’t having sex. The best we can do is prepare them. There is a huge difference in risk between protected sex and unprotected sex, and the best way to do that is teach them about birth control.

A Teen passing through

July 25th, 2010
10:24 pm

Wow, do you guys really think us teen girls are that stupid? If a girl walks into a store and saw cute maternity clothes and goes “Oooh! That’s so CUTE!!! I should go get pregnant so I can buy that!” I think she already has problems to begin with…


July 26th, 2010
3:06 pm

Who said H&M is just for teens?? I am a 30 year old mom who has been shopping at H&M since I was out of college. My friends and I love the store. H&M is very popular for women in their 20’s – single, married, pregnant, etc. I LOVE that H&M is now offering maternity. The majority of maternity clothes are unappealing, so I look forward to shopping there for baby #2. Brilliant!


July 26th, 2010
3:08 pm

Oops, I meant Forever 21. Haha… but I do love both Forever 21 and H&M. Both are on my shopping lists and have been for years!


July 30th, 2010
7:24 pm

i am actually going to be a teenage mother at 19 so take it from me when i say that teenagers wont want to get pregnant because there will be cute clothes. being curious about sex is just part of being a teenager and they will do it regaurdless of what the parent says. i belive that is going to be the way it works until the end of time. having a maternity line for teenagers and women of a petite size is a smart marketing idea.


August 16th, 2010
9:02 am

although forever 21 should be ashamed of themselves for this pregnat teens do need appropriate clothing to wear do i think they should have made a whole store of it no but us it neccesary yes it really is