Meet Linda And Esther Chang — Forever 21 Founders' Daughters Being Sued By Ariana Grande

They are not 21.

Who Are Linda and Esther Chang? New Details On Forever 21 Founders' Daughters And The Lawsuit Ariana Grande Filed Against Them Getty

When I was a kid and I would go to the mall with my friends, there was one store that was always a necessary visit as we made the rounds: Forever 21. No, the clothing they sold didn't last for very long and yes a lot of it smelled like it might be flammable, but it was affordable and it was trendy and when your primary form of income is weekly babysitting, that's really all you're looking for in a retail establishment. Forever 21 is still around, but these days they're in hot water. Who are Linda and Esther Chang? They are the daughters of the store's founders and two of the people Ariana Grande is suing for using her image without her consent. 


1. Meet Linda and Esther Chang

You don't know the Chang sisters, but you've definitely heard of the powerhouse brand their family started: Forever 21! The popular fast-fashion chain was started by the Changs' parents, Do Won and Jin Sook Chang. Esther and Linda started their own company, Riley Rose, and now their company and the brand their parents made famous have been named in a lawsuit issued by none other than Ariana Grande. The pint-sized ponytail fan claims that both stores “stole her name, likeness and other intellectual property to promote their brands for free.” She's asking for $10 million in restitution which is hefty no matter how you slice it, but particularly tough now that Forever 21 is filing for bankruptcy. 


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2. Starting Riley Rose 

The first Riley Rose, the beauty line the sisters started together, opened in 2017 and now it has more than 12 other locations across the country. Neil Saunts, the managing retail developer at Forever 21 was optimistic that the new company could help support the old one: “This is definitely a play to boost growth. The core business at Forever 21 is under pressure from slower growth, fickle consumers, and price deflation in a discount-driven market.” But for the sisters, it was about more than that. “We’ve been able to travel around the world, and we’ve seen some really cool things happening, but we felt there’s nothing like this in the U.S.: a brand that combined beauty with home and lifestyle and catered to the millennial and gen z generations," said Linda about her ambitions for the brand. 

3. Growing Up Forever 21


While you might imagine that Linda and Esther spent their teen years frolicking among the racks of free clothes at their disposal, the reality was actually quite different. The girls were enlisted early on to help at the stores and learned at a very young age that their role wasn't to take advantage of what they had, but instead to make sure that the brand as a whole continued to thrive. “I never felt like it was a candy store. I was always concerned about how we could make it better," said Linda. But don't get it twisted, the girls were wealthy (their parents are worth more than a billion dollars) and they reaped the rewards of that wealth, with each girl attending Ivy League schools. 

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4. Linda's Marketing Prowess 

Both of the girls have worked hard to get to where they are today, in spite of the luxuries that their parents' riches have afforded them. After graduating from Wharton, Linda began working with Merrill Lynch and then worked for a spell as a buyer at Pottery Barn before becoming Forever 21's marketing director in 2008. Linda's claim to fame comes from her early understanding of the importance of social media and figuring out how to harness its power to support the store: “We built a brand through choosing the right locations and having customers talk about us to their friends. This viral campaigning has made us what we are," she said. 

5. How Esther is Involved

Baby sister Esther also climbed the ranks in the business world and has worked hard to establish herself and help ensure her family's businesses continue to succeed. Before she joined the ranks, she worked as an intern at both Nordstrom and CosmoGirl. While Linda has long been on the record eagerly talking about the store and its future, Esther is the more socially reticent of the sisters, but that doesn't mean she doesn't add value. She's responsible for the way Forever 21 stores actually look! “Because we don’t advertise that much, I want to distinguish our brands using interior finishes and visuals, giving the customer a sense of who we are," she said. 


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6. The Ariana Grande Suit 

In my humble estimation this lawsuit is a bit of a stretch, but let's break it down. The main thing she's pissed about is having her Instagram posts used without her consent. According to Ariana, the team at Forever 21 tried to work out an endorsement deal with her but it didn't work out because they couldn't meet her asking price. To hear Ariana tell it, the lack of deal didn't matter to the brand who she claims went ahead and used her likeness anyway.  The suit says that the store “capitalized on the concurrent success of Ms. Grande’s album Thank U, Next by publishing at least 30 unauthorized images and videos misappropriating Ms. Grande’s name, image, likeness, and music in order to create the false perception of her endorsement.” 

Rebecca Jane Stokes is a writer living in Brooklyn, New York with her cats, Batman and Margot. She's an experienced generalist with a passion for lifestyle, geek news, pop culture, and true crime.