Bootcut Maternity Jeans Forever 21

Bootcut Maternity Jeans, $14, at Forever21.com. Photo: Forever21.com

It's not exactly surprising that cheap-chic purveyors Forever 21 would expand their brand of inexpensive, trendy clothing to the maternity market under the label Love 21 Maternity. After all, when given a choice, what woman wouldn't want to buy items she'll only use for six months, max, for as little as possible?

What is surprising is the company's retail strategy. The brand launched at the end of last month on Forever21.com, and, one day later, in 25 "select stores" nationwide.

"Select stores" tend to be in the best fashion retail markets -- the New York metro area, the Los Angeles area, Dallas, Atlanta, Chicago, perhaps San Francisco. With the exception of the L.A. area, none of these markets made the cut for Love 21 Maternity.

Instead, the stores are in California, Texas, Arizona, Alaska, and Utah. Interestingly, three of those states -- California, Texas, and Arizona -- are in the top ten states with teen pregnancies aged 15-19.

In Utah, women often have a lot of kids, while Alaska is benefiting from the Bristol Palin bump -- the state's teen pregnancy rate jumped an astounding 19 percent in 2006 over the previous year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The rates of teen pregnancies in the U.S. are on the rise and Forever 21 appears to be taking advantage of this trend for profit. Forever 21, however, denies this is the case.

A company spokesperson tells StyleList the Love 21 Maternity line was developed to fill a void in the market and offer "both stylish and affordable apparel for mothers-to-be. Both Love 21 and Love 21 Maternity are designed for the more sophisticated Forever 21 shopper."

As for the company's choice of store locations, the spokesperson says, "We chose to put the line in our biggest box stores because they encompass all our brands in a department-store setting."

In related news, read about Heidi Klum's maternity collection for A Pea in the Pod.