Forever 21 taps former H&M exec as CEO

Marianne Wilson
Marianne Wilson profile picture
Daniel Kulle
Daniel Kulle (Photo Courtesy of H&M)

The former leader of a rival fast-fashion giant is taking over control of Forever 21.

The new owners of Forever 21 named Daniel Kulle as CEO, effective immediately. Kulle, who has more than 20 years of experience in the fashion industry, is the former president of H&M North America. Most recently, he served as strategic adviser to the former CEO of H&M Group, Karl-Johan Persson, and was part of a steering group for three new digital start-ups within the group.

Throughout his two-decade-long tenure at H&M, Kulle expanded the Swedish fast-fashion retailer’s bricks-and-motor and e-commerce presence in existing and new markets across North America. Under his leadership, the company’s North American sales grew from $1 billion to $4 billion annually. He opened 600 stores as well as developed integrated e-commerce platforms in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico.

“Knowing Daniel personally for several years, I’ve seen his tenacious working style first-hand,” said David Simon, chairman, CEO, and president of Simon, which, along with Authentic Brands Group and Brookfield, recently acquired the bankrupt Forever 21. “His strategic vision and experience will build on Forever 21’s heritage and undoubtedly usher in a new era for the brand. 

As CEO of Forever 21, Kulle will be charged with leveraging his digital expertise to modernize the brand’s content and social media strategies. He will also work with the brand’s leadership to evolve Forever 21’s sustainability initiatives. There will also be a strategic focus on re-energizing core product categories, and integrating those offerings into the Forever 21 shopping experience both in-store and online. 

Kulle will be relocating from New York to Los Angeles, home base for Forever 21. The new owners have said they plan to continue operating the chain’s 448 stores in the U.S. as well as its global locations. 

“Forever 21 enjoys strong brand awareness and affinity, a clear consumer set, and quick-to-market capabilities, allowing the brand to be nimble and leverage key trends and create strong value for its customers,” said  Kulle,. “The strong ownership structure, which combines ABG’s marketing prowess with Simon and Brookfield’s retail real estate expertise, creates a foundation for long-term growth.”