Claire's Is Cool Again
While standing in line for a presentation at New York Fashion Week, I overheard someone talking about one of the most iconic mall stores still in existence: Claire's.
"Claire's?!" another editor exclaimed in response, wide-eyed and somewhat in shock. The name was a throwback for sure — more 2002 than 2022, more middle school dance than high-fashion — but not for long. "Oh no, Claire's is happening," I assured her. "Even Carrie Bradshaw wears Claire's."
No lies were detected in that statement. Earlier this year, And Just Like That's costume designers told me they used the brand's colorful studs in multiple episodes of the show, and more recently, celebrity stylists Chloe and Chenelle Delgadillo — who have worked with the likes of Olivia Rodrigo, Willow Smith, Diplo, and Rosalía — signed on as its official partners, even filming styling videos with the store's accessories.
"Anyone can shop at Claire's — any age, any gender," Chenelle tells me over over the phone, explaining why this partnership was a perfect fit. The duo even credit the store as one of the first places that introduced them to fashion. "It's not exclusive. Anyone can find something and have fun with the accessories and the clothing."
It can be argued that part of what contributed to this Claire's comeback is the rise of all things associated with the '90s and '00s. Suddenly, Hollywood cool kids are wearing Ed Hardy, slipping into pleated micro mini skirts, and fully dressing like members of NSYNC. Clarie's itself is nostalgic and was a staple for those time periods, but at the same time, has quietly been staying on top of today's It styles. Decades later, it's still an attainable go-to for butterfly clips, bucket hats, and everything in between.
"It was so funny — we were on a photo shoot and it was basically Y2K inspired," Chloe tells me, as Chenelle explains that the vibe was Lizzie McGuire meets Mary-Kate and Ashley. "I was talking to the hairstylists and was like, 'Where did you get all of those amazing hair clips?!' We were shooting at a mall, so he literally walked in Claire's and grabbed all the accessories. I was, 'Wow, that is amazing.'"
The thought of adding multi-colored butterfly clips to your hair might not appeal to everyone — especially millennials, who likely already lived through that phase and moved on. But 2022 Claire's isn't solely for the TikTok-loving, Gen Z crowd or your 10-year-old niece. 30-somethings and beyond can shop there, too, choosing from things like zodiac pendant necklaces and sweet resin rings. For their recent styling video, the Delgadillos even play around with pearlcore pieces.
"In the past, people associated pearls with old Hollywood glam, but you can also pair them with spikes, silver chains, or black chokers and punk it up," says Chenelle. "The best best part is that people are loving mixing the different cores and aesthetics, putting it all into one look. It just makes it a little bit more expressive and tailored to [personal] style."
For me, early '00s Claire's was also a store that allowed for experimentation. I was able to spend what little money I had on the quirky-cute accessories trends I'd been itching to try (and, if I was feeling risky, get my ears pierced). Not-so-surprisingly, it still has that reputation, and the Delgadillos are big fans of thinking outside the box and having fun with your jewelry.
"With our personal style, we like to get necklaces and layer them on hats and berets, add accessories to blazers, and even pierce our collar with earrings," says Chloe. "Chenelle and I have been doing that for years, so it's really cool that we're still incorporating that in our style."
Claire's Chief Marketing Officer, Kristin Patrick, encourages this kind of creativity and is excited to be working with the sisters throughout 2022.
"We've always been about self-expression and providing inspiration for our customers to experiment with style in their own ways, which is why we are excited to be working with two renowned stylists, Chloe and Chenelle," she says. "They share our values of empowering individuals to explore, discover and have the confidence to express and be their truest selves."
In many ways, it's as if Claire's never really changed — maybe I, like other millennials, simply forgot how great it was, at one point feeling 'too cool' for friendship necklaces and mood rings. But I take it back. Between dopamine dressing becoming a way of life, Y2K invading our wardrobes, and all these celebrity ties, it might just be time to return to this feel-good store. Claire's is cool again, and I stand by that statement.