Claire’s CEO Ryan Vero told Glossy in September that his goal for Claire’s is to be a brand that can sell anywhere and everywhere, from mass market stores like Walmart to high-end places like Galeries Lafayette. The high end of Claire’s reach is expanding this week with the opening of a new store in Paris. The store was designed by Nicola Formichetti, former designer of Diesel and Mugler, who was appointed Claire’s creative director in residence in November 2022.
The Paris store is a far cry from Claire’s typical mall locations or placement on a Walmart shelf, in both its aesthetics and merchandising. The 1,200-square-foot store on the Rue Faubourg St. Antoine features a large ear-shaped chandelier that Formichetti designed, playfully referred to by the Claire’s team as the “chandel-ear.” The store is also home to exclusive products including handbags and makeup, and a planned rotation of experiential installations — currently featured is a content creation studio for making Instagram posts. In addition, the store will serve as a launch pad for testing new products.
According to Kristin Patrick, CMO of Claire’s, the store and its grand opening party — held during Paris Fashion Week on March 5 — is meant to continue the mission of broadening Claire’s appeal.
“The beauty of Claire’s is that it has this ageless appeal,” she said. “We’ve got stores in malls all the way up to Galeries Lafayette. And we’ve got great creative partners like Nicola, someone who’s well-known and highly respected in what he does. You’ll start to see a lot more from us, including collabs. We’ll be taking the brand to [new] places throughout this year. We’re already in the metaverse. We want to be where our customers are.”
Claire’s also has a broad global audience. Its customer base is primarily in the U.S., plus there are large shopper segments in Europe. And the company franchises stores in the Middle East. Patrick said she wants to soon take the store concept that debuted in Paris to other high-end locations, including fashion capitals like Milan and Dubai. Claire’s is promoting the Paris store and the 200 stores it opened last year through a dedicated Instagram account called @clairesstores, which has over 1 million followers. For the Paris store, the brand worked with influencer Kacey Margo to create a virtual tour of the store, which was posted on both her account and the @clairesstores account.
This all jives with what Vero laid out at the end of 2022 as the company’s retail and branding strategy. This retail expansion is driven by the company’s surging sales. After filing for bankruptcy in 2018, Claire’s has come back stronger, growing its revenue by more than 50% between 2021 and 2022, thanks to pulling out of malls and expanding its partnerships with big retailers. While more than 80% of Claire’s $1.4 billion business comes from its own stores, its sales through retail partners like CVS and Walmart have grown by more than 70% in the last year, boosted by the extra 1,200 Walmart stores that started carrying Claire’s in September. In 2022, 60% of its stores were in malls, down from 75% in 2019.
Vero told Glossy in September that he wanted Claire’s to be a brand like Nike or Apple, which are not solely tied to any one demographic, income bracket or geographic region.
The hiring of Formichetti, with his pedigree from working with high fashion brands like Diesel and Mugler, is meant to boost Claire’s credibility among higher-end fashion shoppers. But Claire’s hasn’t raised prices or offered more expensive options to lure in luxury shoppers. Formichetti has said before that he’s not interested in the elitism of high fashion and has sought to make the brands he’s worked with more accessible and affordable.
“That’s why I love working with Claire’s — there are no boundaries,” Formichetti said. “It’s exciting as a creator to have a place where I get to do wonderful things and not have to think about a specific people or segment. It’s for everyone.”
But there is one consumer segment Claire’s is targeting, in particular. Alongside the store opening, this week, Claire’s is also celebrating the launch of Mini V, a digital magazine focused on young people — or “Gen Zalpha,” as Claire’s marketing puts it. The magazine is created, in part, with V Magazine and Formichetti. Formichetti started his career in fashion media, working with magazines like V, Vogue and Dazed.
The magazine will publish two print editions a year, available for purchase individually in select Claire’s stores and through a QR code offered in all of its stores. The digital version is linked on V Magazine’s homepage. Claire’s presence in Mini V is subtle; there’s no overt branding, but Claire’s products are frequently featured in the photography. Formichetti is the publication’s creative director.
Patrick said Mini V was born out of feedback from Claire’s customers asking for more content from the brand. “We do post on social media, but we thought that younger consumers might appreciate having a print edition of a real magazine,” Patrick said. “We have [16 million] loyalty members, and we send a lot of direct mail to them.”
Formichetti added, “The artistic value and the photography of the classic fashion magazine are [fading]. I wanted to bring a bit of that back.”