Q&A   //   August 23, 2022  ■  4 min read

How 91-year-old women’s clothing company Maurices plans to enter the tween category

Maurices has built a 91-year-old business dedicated to women’s clothing. Now, its focus is on creating outfits for its customers’ daughters.

After launching its tween girls’ brand Evsie in select stores in March, Maurices announced that it is expanding the brand to an additional 100 stores. Starting this month, products from the Evsie brand will be found in a total of 150 Maurices stores and online. The company said it plans to expand Evsie to around 300 stores by the holiday season as well as begin testing standalone stores. 

Founded in 1931, Maurices has mostly targeted women aged 25-45 with around 900 stores across the U.S. and Canada. But upon conducting market research, the company saw an opportunity to expand to the tween category. Maurices was sold to private-equity firm OpCapita LLP back in 2019 in a deal worth $300 million. At that time, OpCapita said Maurices generated $1 billion in revenue in 2018.

Evsie offers products like dresses, tops and jeans that come in sizes ranging from 8-12. It also offers shoes and accessories. Evsie also offers adaptive clothing featuring soft fabric and velcro closures to fit the needs of young girls. 

David Kornberg, CEO of Maurices spoke to Modern Retail about the company’s investments in the tween category and how it fits into its overall strategy. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Why did Maurices decide to expand to the tween category?
One of the things that we have always heard is that women love the offering, the quality and the service that we offer as a business. The women who have long embraced Maurices and like Maurices as a style partner for them told us that they want the same affordable, feel-good fashion for their daughters.

We wanted to create a beautiful and creative moment for young girls, a safe haven for them to shop in. That’s how Evsie was essentially born. We obviously see that the tween years are crucial and important years for young ladies cultivating their self-image and self-confidence. And we’re trusted advisers to our customers. So it was really a natural extension of our brand.

It’s obviously super important that retailers cater to the specific needs and supply the tween customer with what she wants. You can’t look at it as just another revenue stream. It’s really thinking about it long-term in terms of getting these tweens into our brand. Hopefully, they will stay with us and grow through into the Maurices brand.

What made Maurices decide to expand Evsie into more stores?
We launched [Evsie initially] in 50 stores and it gave us some insight into the collection. We were able to see what resonated best with both the tween customers and their moms who helped them. We always felt in the beginning, through some of the research that we did, that this would always have the ability to grow into a fully national brand with strong broad appeal

Its expansion was really just a matter of timing, and we decided that back-to-school was the right time to extend it further. So we’re now in 150 stores. We also have [Evsie] capsule collections in many of our individual stores.

The aim is really for the holiday to [have Evsie] be in close to 300 stores, and we will be in probably just over 600 capsule stores. So the whole chain potentially, will have [Evsie] by the holiday in some shape or form.

It seems like physical stores are the primary channel of expansion Maurices has in mind for Evsie. Why is that?
Our customer is largely based in hometowns across America. Our stores are really at the heart of the hometown.

Our customers like to come in to get advice, to have service, to see the offering that’s available in-store. Yes, she also shops online as well. But brick-and-mortar is still an absolutely essential and important part of the retail experience.

Having said that, we’re going to have an even broader assortment available online because we don’t necessarily have all the space.

It seems like several other apparel brands are also eying the tween category. How do you plan to stand out from the competition?
How we plan to stand out is by having the best product available… and have it at competitive value prices.

As we look at the collection that we’ve got, it’s about ensuring that it’s really trend-forward, it’s age-appropriate, it’s comfortable, it fits well and that we have a body-positive approach for different sizes. 

We carry the in-between sizes as well, which not many girls retailers have. A lot of people go 8, 10, 12. We’ve done 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 so that we are able to offer the broadest possible size offering.

[Maurices is] creating an enjoyable, fun mother-daughter shopping experience, which is facilitated and served by what we see as and our customers as Maurices’ trusted style advisors.