Responsible for your diamanté butterfly clip collection, home to unicorn themed everything, and where most of us got our ears pierced for the first time, Claire's Accessories was a rite of passage for any noughties teenager.
Back in the days when the UK high street was going strong, and Hemel Hempstead shopping centre still held an allure of the exotic, Claire's was the place to be seen on a Saturday afternoon.
Whether it was your post-McDonalds teenage hang destination of choice, or a glittering cave of bejewelled hairbands, multi-pack hoop earrings and curiously out of place hen do accoutrement, Claire's Accessories holds an inescapable nostalgia for almost everyone.
As the company files for bankruptcy in lieu of a £1.4 billion debt (how did our butterfly clip purchases not keep it afloat?), we spoke to eight women about their own memories of the adolescence-defining retail chain.
Sarah Powell, Podcaster
'Claire’s Accessories was always the hang out spot after McDonalds on a Saturday afternoon. For a 12-year-old girl it was like a temple. Our church of stick on nails and clip in hair braids. We spent hours, no doubt driving the girls who worked there mad, giggling over clip on earrings and strawberry lip balm, dazzled by the array of hair clips. I loved it there because Claire's always had something exciting that I could actually afford.
'My most beloved phase of Claire’s was my ill advised but fully committed goth phase. The tattoo places strewn with actual goths and metal fans were far too scary and involved. No, I was a goth who went to Claire’s Accessories to buy my rainbow fishnet tights. It was the first place I ever found spray on hair colour (and got sent home for wearing it on non uniform day at school). It was the only place which sold the pots of multi coloured glitter I would pile onto my eyelids with vaseline, which would still be there two days later.
'I still hold a great deal of affection for Claire’s. I bought a wig for halloween last year from there and as the lady took it down off a mannequin she said “Go on, have it for a tenner as it’s been on display.” I bought an emergency pair of black tights there on the way to a wedding and watched open mouthed as my friend Ed had his ear pierced in the window of there last summer.
'Dearly beloved Claire’s, I shall miss you terribly.'
Natasha Bird, LouisvuittonShop UK Digital Editor
'I used to put Claire's on a pedestal because it was where my mum said I could have my ears pierced when I was old enough. I used to look at all the big girls in the piercing chair and be in awe and wish it was me.
'And then finally I was old enough (according to my mum) and I was SO excited to go and I took loads of time choosing which sleeper studs I wanted and then it was over in mere seconds. The whole experience made me feel really cool. Oh to be an innocent kid with nothing to worry about except getting her ears pierced in order to fit in.'
Lisa Potter-Dixon, Make-Up Artist
Thanks for all the random shit that you brought into my teenage life. From my first ear piercing and friendship necklaces that I could share with my bestie, to shag bands (who the hell named them them?!) in every colour of the rainbow, plus the limited edition glitter and neon collection, and my all time fave, the snap band. Remember them? They looked like rulers but if you hit them on your wrist they turned into bracelets! Revolutionary! I got kicked out of RE once for “over snapping”-no joke!
And then there was the glitter hairspray of joy. My first bottle was purchased when I was 11, my last bottle was purchased about a week ago!
Anyway Claire’s, thanks for all the memories. I’ll never forget you!
Louise Donovan, LouisvuittonShop UK Deputy Digital Editor
'I begged my mum to let me pierce my ears for about three years. In reality, it was probably only a couple of weeks, but when your pals are showing off their over-sized diamond earrings on a daily basis it feels like an eternity. Eventually she kindly gave in and walked me ten minutes up the road to our local Claire’s.
'The event itself was pretty uneventful – the shop assistant used one of those terrifying (and now banned) piercing guns and it took all of ten minutes. But having pierced ears 100% changed me. Like every teen who grew up in the noughties, it was a rite of passage. I was the kind of girl who could now wear ridiculously large gold hoops (never not a hazard) or chunky, bright-yellow plastic flowers dangling dangerously from each lobe. Did I care that they turned my ears green? Nope.
'My best friend and I would spend hours – literally hours – choosing our next "look" and saunter out with a 20-pair pack each (plus several hundred butterfly clips).
'RIP Claire’s, your junk jewellery permanently damaged my right earlobe but I’ll miss you!'
Danielle Peazer, Personal Trainer & Founder Of
'I have many fond memories of Claire's, although getting my ears pierced in the store in London's Trocadero is definitely one of the more memorable ones. It was my second set of ear piercings and I hadn't told my parents. I was more nervous about them finding out than whether it was going to hurt or not!
'Before any fancy dress party, I'd make a trip to Claire's for costume accessories and the sparkliest eye shadow that I didn't already have in my make-up collection. I remember going there as recently as Halloween 2016 when my flatmate and I had a party and I dressed up as Edwina Scissorhands. I bought white face paint and a deep red lipstick from Claire's to help create that perfectly pale/deathly look!'
Katie O'Malley, LouisvuittonShop UK Digital What`s New Editor
'Long before Gucci’s crystal-embellished resin hair slides and ‘90s snap clip barrettes became a ‘thing’ again, there were twisted crystal hair spins. Diamanté, rhinestone-encrusted, fruit-shaped…you name it, if it stuck on a piece of swirly mental that could impale a small child’s finger, you’d find them in my hair. Even a disastrous trip to the local swimming pool (which ended in me crying as my mum removed one knotted in my hair) didn’t alter my love for the little things.
'A curly girl’s nightmare, yes, but a 90s hair lover’s dream accessory forever.'
Charlotte Stow, Under The Influence Digital Consultant
'I have fond memories of not only getting my ears pierced at Claire’s (with the gold setting and cubic zirconia light-blue coloured gemstone), but also buying magnetic body jewellery so that I could don a fake nose-ring. Body jewellery wasn’t allowed as school, so this was my adolescent hack to fight the system.
'It was one of the go-to after school hang outs with friends (well, that and Tammy Girl - RIP), where we’d check-out the latest hair springs, scrunchies and tooth-gems. Thank goodness iPhones weren’t invented then, so there’s no visual evidence at least.'
Susan Ward-Davies, LouisvuittonShop UK Travel & Fashionstyle Director
'I personally must have spent zillions in Claire's on hair accessories, sparkly earrings, face lace and general tat for goody bags for kids parties, presents for my daughter's class mates, and bribe treats for her on every shopping trip, not to mention having endless arguments about why she couldn't have her ears pierced when everyone else was having it done. I won't be sad to see it go but all those armies of little girls wanting their ears pierced definitely will.'