Claire’s is back, and Gen Z is loving it

The ‘90s tween haven is moving beyond the mall.

As a millennial mall rat, Claire’s is a brand I feel a weird fondness for even if I never shopped there personally.

Claire’s is back, and Gen Z is loving it

I’d pass by on my way between PacSun and Abercrombie & Fitch, and peek inside to spot a customer taking advantage of its free ear piercing.

The mall staple fell on hard times in 2018, declaring bankruptcy and closing 189 stores. But since then, it’s experienced a massive resurgence thanks in part to Gen Z, per Fast Company.

If the mall is dying…

… how exactly is Claire’s thriving? Simply put, it comes down to a combo punch of strategic plays, including:

  • Locations: In 2019, 80% of Claire’s stores were in malls — since then, the company has doubled its non-mall locations and exited underperforming malls.
  • Partnerships: Since 2015, the brand has launched 13k+ partner locations, including at CVS, Albertsons, and soon, Walmart stores.
  • Products: The store has evolved its inventory to match the times, offering iPhone covers and Pride accessories alongside staples like jewelry and makeup.

Further, with rising interest in ‘90s fashion and Y2K nostalgia, Gen Z has naturally gravitated toward the brand’s aesthetic.

What’s next?

While the mall experience is increasingly moving online, Claire’s is doubling down on brick-and-mortar.

  • CEO Ryan Vero touts the store’s “treasure hunt experience,” saying, “The digital experience is really just a showcase for the brand.”

The retailer also filed for an IPO last October that could help it raise up to $100m.

If this run of success continues, Claire’s wouldn’t just be giving millennials like me flashbacks to our tween years — they’ll be able to do the same for generations to come.

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