Pennsylvania Fashions was founded in 1976 as a casual clothing retailer. In 1989, Cary Klein purchased the business from his father and began to modernize its fashions with the creation of the Rue21 discount clothing label. The company encountered major financial woes in the late '90s and was forced to declare bankruptcy in 2002. Leadership decided to restructure the business by focusing on the popular discount chain, and it emerged from bankruptcy in 2003 as Rue21, Inc.
The brand began an aggressive expansion almost immediately. By 2009, it had grown to 500 stores, and in 2013 it reached 1,000 retail locations across the country. The company went public in 2008, but it was taken private again when it was purchased by investment conglomerate Apax Partners in 2013. Under new ownership, the company has created several sub-brands of apparel that cater to specific market niches. In addition to doubling the size of its distribution centers, the brand also launched an ecommerce division to target younger customers. Today, there are more than 1,100 Rue21 stores in 48 states. The company is committed to offering modern and trendy styles at price points that are affordable for most consumers.
Rue21 specifically caters to tweens, teens, and twentysomethings who aspire to look and feel like they are 21 years old. The brand's clothes are available in a wide array of contemporary styles. For girls, dresses range from mini to midi to maxi, and specific designs include bodycon dresses, shirtdresses, knit dresses, little black dresses, and more. Tops include blouses, tees, croptops, plaids, and flannels. Graphic tees and tanks are also available with unique prints and slogans. You can find several light outerwear options like cardigans, sweaters, and wraps. In bottoms, jeans are available in all the most popular washes and cuts, including bootcut, skinny, flare, high waisted, and jegging. Palazzo pants, leggings, twill pants, and ankle pants can also be found in a range of colors. Bras, underwear, and sleepwear round out the girls' apparel selection. Apart from clothing, you can also find plenty of shoes, including heels, flats, wedges, boots, booties, and sandals.
For boys, short- and long-sleeved tees are popular--many of which have unique graphics. Other tops include button-down shirts, sweatshirts, hoodies, and sweaters. Jeans are the most popular bottoms for guys, but you can also find joggers and trousers. Accessories include hats, belts, wallets, and socks. Sneakers, skate shoes, and hiking boots are available in a variety of different styles. Rue21's unique sub-brands include Rue+ for fashion-forward plus-sized clothing, Tarea by Rue21 for intimates and yoga wear, and Carbon Elements for guys' accessories.
The selection of clothing, shoes, and accessories at Rue21 is so broad that it's easy for almost anyone to find something they like. The brand's clothing selections are a little disjointed, however, because they try to cater to so many different trends. To make shopping a little less confusing, it's a good idea to check out some of the sub-brands and see if there are any complete lines that particularly appeal to you. Affordable fashion is the company's number one goal, so there are always great deals to be found. We give Rue21 4 stars out of 5.