It was rumored to be happening, but now it's official: the popular clothing store Forever 21 has filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy.

According to CBS News, Forever 21 filed for bankruptcy protection yesterday, and they plan to close up to 178 stores across the U.S. The company once had around 800 stores in 57 different countries, but the New York Times reports that with the restructuring, they plan to "cease operations in 40 countries, including Canada and Japan." That will bring the total number of closed stores to around 350. Along with the U.S., Forever 21 will still have stores in Mexico and Latin America, and they will also still operate their online store. Forever 21 is one of many stores in recent years to be impacted by online shopping and less mall traffic.

I worked for a Forever 21 stores for almost four years, and I loved it because of the inexpensive options. At one point, about 90% of my wardrobe was purchased from the company. Fashion has changed drastically since then, though, and I'm finding it harder and harder to find styles there that I feel comfortable in at age 28. I've also had to wait two to three weeks to have one or two items delivered, which makes me less eager to order from their online store. Still, I hope the company is able to turn things around, because it would be a shame to see it shut down!

Forever 21 has one location here in Eastern Iowa at the Coral Ridge Mall in Coralville. No official list of stores that will be closing has been released yet, but you can read Forever 21's letter to customers HERE.