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Entries in Forever 21 (4)

Monday
Aug062012

Chick-Fil-A and Six Other Companies That Have Taken a Political Stand

Alex Wong/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Whether he wanted to be or not, Dan Cathy, the Bible-quoting president and chief operating officer of Chick-fil-A, has become a household name. So has his stance on same-sex marriage.

What people might not realize is the extent to which Chick-fil-A has funded organizations with radically anti-gay messages through its charitable arm, the WinShape Foundation, which was created by Chick-fil-A founder and chairman S. Truett Cathy in 1984. According to a July report from Equality Matters, a gay rights organization, the foundation donated nearly $2 million in 2010 to groups such as the Marriage & Family Foundation, the Family Research Council and Exodus International, which has helped "men and women surrender their sexual struggles to the Lordship of Jesus Christ" since 1976.

But Chick-fil-A isn't the only company with a conservative bent. Conservative activists are responsible for some of the products you use in your home. Koch Industries, for example, which manufactures products like Angel Soft toilet paper, Brawny Paper towels and Dixie cups plans to donate about $400 million to conservative groups such as the National Rifle Association, Grover Norquist's Americans for Tax Reform, the National Right to Life Committee, Ralph Reed's Faith and Freedom Coalition, and the American Future Fund, Politico reported.

The founders of Koch Industries, brothers David and Charles Koch, have helped bankroll numerous Tea Party candidates through their advocacy group, Americans for Prosperity.

Meanwhile, Costco co-founder and chairman Jeffrey H. Brotman gave $77,550 in political contributions to Democrats and only $15,625 to Republicans. An additional $63,700 went to special interest groups, according to Newsmeat.org, which tracks donor spending.

Most people aren't aware of the extent to which their favorite companies play partisan politics, said Kate Coyne-McCoy, executive director of Coalition for Accountability in Political Spending (CAPS), a bipartisan organization dedicated to curbing the role of corporate spending in elections. What's more, public companies aren't obligated to disclose their political spending.

"Soon America will be inundated with TV ads that will be nasty and vitriolic," she said. "We won't know who's paying for what. It's like campaigns are auctions, not elections, and we won't know which politicians are being bought by whom."

So what other companies or CEOS have strong political or ideological beliefs?

Amazon.com
While Chick-fil-A has been gaining notoriety among those opposed to same-sex marriage, Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos is the new poster boy for the pro-gay marriage set. On July 27, Bezos and his wife, MacKenzie, pledged $2.5 million to Washington United for Marriage (WUM), Washington state's coalition of organizations, congregations, unions and businesses working together to defend civil marriage for same-sex couples. To that end, Microsoft founder Bill Gates and CEO Steve Ballmer each donated $100,000 to the cause.

Forever 21
Forever 21 founder Do Won Chang, along with his wife, Jin Sook, is a devout Christian who performs missionary work around the globe and claims the Bible is his favorite book. Chang, who came to the United States from South Korea in 1981, also co-runs the Chang 21 Foundation, which donates to churches and faith-based organizations, according to The Los Angeles Times. And every Forever 21 shopping bag comes with a Bible verse (John 3:16) stamped on the bottom: "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."

Amway
On Thursday, Fred Karger, an LGBT rights activist, announced a world-wide boycott against Amway, the conservative direct-sales monolith. Karger obtained the tax records of Amway president and owner Doug DeVos and discovered that DeVos had donated $500,000 to the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) Education Fund, according to the Michigan Business Review. NOM was created five years ago to pass Proposition 8 in California, a constitutional amendment to prohibit same sex marriage. Karger told rawstory.com that DeVos' "appears to be the largest family donation to NOM in its history."

Dr. Bronner's Magic "All-One" Products
The debate over genetically modified organisms (GMOs) has been raging in grocery stores across the country. Now it's headed to California, where voters will get to decide if many food products using GMOs are required to label them as such. The November ballot initiative is known as "The California Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act," or Proposition 37. If 37 is passed, not only will there be labeling requirements, but these foods will also be forbidden from labeling or advertising themselves as "natural." Those supporting the initiative include Dr. Bronner's, which has donated $290,000 to pro-37 groups; Nature's Path Food USA, ($250,709) and Amy's Kitchen ($25,000). The company says it does not use GMOs.

PepsiCo
Those on the other end of the spectrum -- that is, those who argue that, if passed, Prop 37 would increase food prices, encourage frivolous lawsuits and do nothing to protect the public's well-being -- include Pepsi, which has contributed $90,220 to efforts to oppose the Prop 37; Nestle ($61,471); and Coca-Cola ($61,209), according to Voters Edge, a nonpartisan guide to ballot measures.

Gold's Gym International
Gold's is a subsidiary of TRT Holdings, a private Texas corporation that also owns Omni Hotels and Tana Exploration, an oil and gas exploration firm. Its owner, CEO and president, Robert Rowling, has donated more than $1 million to American Crossroads, which was started by GOP political strategists Karl Rove and Ed Gillespie, and the super PAC that supports Mitt Romney, Restore Our Future, according to opensecrets.org.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Nov022011

Forever 21 Criticized for ‘Oriental Girl Necklace’

Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for Forever 21(NEW YORK) -- Forever 21 has the Internet buzzing with an “Oriental Girl Necklace” that some shoppers are calling offensive for its stereotypical depiction of an Asian woman and the use of the outdated term “oriental.”

The charm is of a white-faced girl with her black hair styled in two buns over her ears. It is on sale for $1.50 on the Forever 21 website.

There is debate, however, in the online world about whether the item is offensive or racist. Many of those who believe it is offensive comment that the issue is with the word “oriental,” which is often regarded as a derogatory word when referring to people.

“Apparently, Forever 21 thinks that people want to wear outdated, cultural stereotypes as necklaces, and that it’s okay to sell them,” wrote Dhani Mau of style website “Fashionista.”

Others think the criticism is an over-reaction and say the charms aren’t offensive.

One commenter wrote, “People need to grow thicker skin, get a sense of humor and stop yelling racism at every little thing.”

Forever 21 did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Cultural caricatures were the target of a recent effort by an Ohio University student group poster campaign denouncing “racist” Halloween costumes.

The posters showed students of a different ethnicities holding photographs of an offensive costume. An Asian girl holds an image of someone dressed up as a geisha. A Mexican boy holds a photo of someone in a sombrero, colorful poncho and exaggerated mustache riding a stuffed donkey.

Each poster has two sentences on it: “We’re a culture, not a costume,” and “This is not who I am, and this is not okay.”

“Fashionista” also spotted a necklace in a Forever 21 store with a Native American girl charm that is not available online. This charm has a tan-skinned girl with exaggerated rosy cheeks sporting her hair in two braids and wearing a “traditional” Native American dress.

Urban Outfitters was recently slammed by the Navajo Nation for its ‘Navajo’ line that included the “Navajo Print Fabric Wrapped Flask” and the “Navajo Hipster Panty.” Under pressure, the company eventually dealt with the situation by replacing the word “Navajo” with “Printed” in the product names, but left the products up.

This is not the first time that Forever 21 has been at the center of a controversy surrounding a product. In September, outraged consumers denounced the brand’s “Allergic to Algebra” shirt marketed to girls and teenagers. The shirt was criticized for sending an anti-education message to girls. The company ultimately pulled the shirt from its website.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Sep122011

Forever 21′s ‘Allergic to Algebra’ Shirt Draws Criticism

Robert Marquardt/Getty Images(LOS ANGELES) -- A Forever 21 shirt with the words “Allergic to Algebra” printed on the front is the latest shirt to draw criticism for its seemingly anti-education message for girls and teenagers.

One shopper posted a photo on Reddit.com, a social news website, of the shirt on a mannequin with a neon green note attached to it with the message: “SMART girls are cool. Don’t buy this top.”

Many comments on Reddit.com expressed disdain for the shirt.

“It’s a big deal because there is still this childish perception -- among females AND males -- that girls can’t do math,” wrote a commenter by the handle mikgyver. “I can’t tell you how many times, as a girl who’s good at math, that I’ve been accused of ‘trying to be a guy’ when I get good grades in math.”

Another commenter, called “kadhai” and self-identified as a “student of mathematics,” wrote, “I’m curious as to what the story behind this top is, and who thought it would be a good idea to put something so offensive as this on a shirt.”

“Our merchandise is intended to appeal to all audiences, not to offend them,” Linda Chang, a senior marketing manager for Forever 21, told ABC News in a statement. “We would like to apologize to our customers as our intent was not to discredit education and we are taking the proper actions necessary.”

The company told ABC News that it is pulling the shirt from its website.

The trendy Los Angeles-based retailer is popular among teenagers, and the shirt is being sold for $12.80. There were no shirts that alluded to education in the men’s section of the website.

And the algebra shirt isn’t the only one on the website that seems to be down on school.

One shirt blatantly declares “Skool sucks” and another shirt has a list on the front that reads: “A+=amazing, B=brilliant, C=cool, D=delightful, F=fabulous.” The website’s tagline for selling the shirt is “F doesn’t always mean fail!”

One shirt seemed promising with the message,”I heart school” emblazoned on the front, but a photo of the back reveals the rest of the message: “not…”

The “Allergic to Algebra” Forever 21 shirt follows a controversial and similarly themed shirt from JCPenney.

Less than two weeks ago, JCPenney pulled a shirt from its website that drew sharp criticism from consumers calling it “sexist.” The girls’ shirt read: “I’m too pretty to do homework so my brother has to do it for me.”

After a Change.org petition was created to remove the shirt, the company obliged and apologized to its customers. “We want to apologize to our customers,” Ann Marie Bishop, a spokeswoman for JCPenney, told ABC News. “We agreed that the shirt does not deliver an appropriate message.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jun082011

Forever 21 Threatens Blogger with Copyright Infringement

Robert Marquardt/Getty Images(LOS ANGELES) -- Retail behemoth Forever 21 is taking aim at a sassy young blogger for her satirical blog WTForever21.com.

The company has threatened to sue the blog's 26-year-old creator, Rachel Kane, for "trademark infringement, unfair competition, and dilution" for poking fun at clothing items sold at the store.

"I've been shopping at Forever 21 for years and the company actually started in Highland Park, which is about five minutes from my apartment.  It was local.  I was a fan.  What they've done as a business is honestly amazing, so that's why I was interested in it," Kane said about her decision to write about the brand.

But after a cease and desist letter from the legal department of the retail giant, the blogger has two days to remove the website or she finds herself at risk for a lawsuit.

Kane said the blog, created in April 2010, was a fun way for her as a then unemployed writer to continue to hone her writing and journalistic skills.  A self-described "big shopper," Kane said the website idea stemmed from her weekly trips to Forever 21, or online at forever21.com, where Kane would find items on the racks that were "just crazy."

"I would just wonder 'who is buying this?  Why would they make this?  Are there time travelers shopping at this store?'" Kane said.  The blog takes its name from the department store and the popular texting acronym for "what the [expletive]."

The fashion blog pokes fun at the garments sold by the store "that made you utter the immortal acronym, WTF?" she said.

At the end of April, the company sent the blogger a letter stating: "Your Web site's name refers to an abbreviation for colloquial expression that the general public may find offensive, and such colloquial expression is being used in conjunction with our company's name, registered trademark, and domain name."

In the letter, the company demanded Kane remove the "infringing Web site" and provide "written reassurances" that she will no longer "register or use any domain names consisting or comprising of a part of the company's trademark now" or use images from the company's website without written permission from the company.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio