Success Stories

Success Stories: Claire's Accessories

It started out as a wig retailer and now Claire’s Stores is a worldwide fashion brand. Wholesale Scout looks at the company’s rise to success.

The man behind the Claire’s brand is Rowland Schaefer. In 1961 Schaefer formed a company called Fashion Tress Industries that specialised in sourcing wholesale wigs and selling to the public. The company’s popularity grew very quickly and it soon became one of the most popular wig retailers for women. At the same time, a small chain of shops called Claire’s Boutiques opened, selling affordable jewellery and fashion accessories to teenage girls and women. The boutiques became popular as more and more women realised that purchasing a few accessories could completely change an outfit in a fairly inexpensive way. As women became more obsessed with accessories than wigs, Schaefer saw potential in the Claire’s Boutiques and in 1973 Schaefer bought the company and its 25 stores in Chicago.

The retail brand quickly grew in the 1980s and expanded following the purchase of Japanese brand Topkapi. But the next decade saw difficulties for Claire’s as due to rapid expansion the company struggled to make healthy profits.

A few years later the company began to recover though, as a new management team was selected and Asian imports increased. By 1989 Claire’s had 650 stores, employed 4,000 members of staff and achieved a net profit of almost $20m.

During the 1990s the company grew further due to the acquisition of brands including Dara Michelle, Arcadia and Art Explosion. In 2007 the company was sold to Apollo Management.

Now Claire’s has secured itself as one of the biggest retailers of costume jewellery, cosmetics and accessories. There are currently over 3,000 stores across Europe, America and Japan.

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