I like to imagine the design team at Forever 21 sitting around brainstorming their latest collaboration ideas. “Taco Bell?” one designer suggests. “DONE THAT!” the lead designer yells. “What about Honda, like the car?” another designer suggests. “LAST YEAR!” the lead designer yells. A new entry-level hire, sure of her coolness but unsure of workplace confidence, has an idea that feels almost too “out there” to share. She tentatively raises her hand, “Um, well, what about…the United States Postal Service?” The other designers raise their eyebrows and look at her with looks that say a combination of “What the fuck and STAY IN YOUR LANE.” But to everyone’s surprise, the lead designer widens their eyes and exclaims, “YES! That’s the one!”
This is my brief fan-fiction of what is otherwise a mysterious, probably unknowable behind-the-scenes universe known as the Fast-Fashion Nostalgia-Based Collection. Two days ago, Forever 21 announced a collaboration with none other than the United States Postal Service aka The Post Office aka That Retro Place With Confusing Stamps You Sometimes Go. USPS, you might think, is a really random collab for Forever21. And, reader, you’d be right. But I’m all for it because it is so perfectly bizarre—and, honestly, kind of cool?
Dubbed “postal service athleisure” by Bustle, the collection pays streetwear homage to the lost art of sending letters. I recently tried to send a letter that inexplicably was sent back to me, and I thought “vintage!!” The collection features pieces stamped with USPS phrases like “Express,” “First Class,” and “Priority Mail”. And perhaps most unexpected of all—it’s a subtle, well-done line.
There are white sweatpants with “EXPRESS” in a post-office palette of blue and red, as well as a zippered clutch designed to look like a Priority Mail envelope. Stand-out pieces also include Priority Mail biker shorts, a blue tube top, and my personal favorite, a transparent jacket with “Official Use” emblazoned on the arm. There’s also a USPS graphic belt that seems very Off-White inspired.
Screenshot courtesy of author
Then, as our social media editor Alix pointed out, in a particularly compelling strain of late capitalism ennui, Forever21 quietly offered up biker shorts with “Fake News” printed all over. This is one of those beautiful pieces with a befuddlingly mixed message. Is your ass, emblazoned with the phrase all over it, indeed fake news?
It’s safe to say that Forever21 is ON ONE, and it also seems somehow accidentally symbolic of this wild time we live in. As per usual, to take the current, mass-market pop culture temperature, just visit Forever21.com. Now, BRB, going to buy a head-to-toe USPS outfit to let everyone know what I’m REALLY about…receiving packages.