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Maurices is branching out. The Duluth, MN-based retailer of trending apparel for women, is expanding its sizing to 7 to 14 and targeting tweens who like their mom’s style and want to emulate it. The new range, which in March started as a test in 50 of Maurices’ 900 stores, was so successful, it was rolled out to 800 units. Evsie, as the brand is called, even opened three freestanding stores and expanded into more sizes.

“We’ve been in business for 92 years,” said David Kornberg, CEO of Maurices. “Women have long embraced us as a [fashion] partner, and they told us they want the same affordable fashion for their daughters.

“The tween years are very important for girls in terms of cultivating their self image, and hand-in-hand with that is their self-confidence,” Kornberg added. “This is a way of getting girls into the brand, so they grow and stay with the brand and become a Maurices customer.”

Evsie last week open three freestanding stores located in West Jordan, UT, Fargo, ND and Boise, ID. In addition, the tween brand expanded into Maurices’ stores with six passthrough locations and over 240 shops-in-shop across the country. Evsie is now offered in locations throughout the U.S. and Canada, as well as online at maurices.com.

“Evsie is a style shop for the tween girl to help her discover her unique style in a fun, playful and supportive way with a comfortable approach to inspire confidence,” Kornberg said. “Evsie is fashion, tailored for tweens with comfort-conscious apparel made for movement and ease. The collection is a strong balance of fashion-forward items that are trend-right and “mom approved,” with StyleSuperstars, everyday essentials made with extra love and priced just right.”

Maurices’ 900 stores are predominantly in home towns across America, Kornberg said, adding, “A large part of our business is in markets with 250,000 people or less.”

A typical Maurices store measures about 4,500 square feet. “What we’ve done, is we enlarged it and put Evsie in 50 stores,” Kornberg said. “We just opened three standalone stores and we have six pass-through locations.”

Pass-through stores are located in malls where there’s an existing Maurices store adjacent to an empty retail space. “We’ve taken the lease out on the store and knocked through, essentially,” Kornberg said.

The six Evsie mall stores are about 1,500 square feet, said Kornberg, who was CEO of Express
EXPR
since 2015, prior to joining Maurices. “We’re seeing a digital customer for Evsie in larger markets where we may not necessarily have a brick and mortar presence. That’s in addition to the core market. She’s able to shop in certain places where we don’t have a physical presence.

“To begin with, it was a test,” Kornberg said of Evsie. “We’ve now got shops-in-shop with about 350 square feet of space close to 400 of the locations. The other 400 are essentially a rack or two of girls’ wear in an existing Maurice store.”

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Inclusive sizing is an important and sensitive subject. “We sized it for ages 7 to 14,” Kornberg said. “We started at age 12, and we saw there was a demand on either end, so we expanded that to 7 to 14.

“The other thing is that we have in-between sizes as well,” Kornberg added. “Most girls’ wear retailers have sizes 8, 10 and 12; we have 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14. That makes a big difference.”

Sales associates received training in working with the new consumers. “Obviously, they’re very excited about it,” Kornberg said of the staff. “You’re bringing in another customer to the store.”

Kornberg said the retailer is grooming younger women to be lifelong Maurices customers. Who is the brand’s target customer? Kornberg said the brand “sees a very broad cross-section of age and population, although our average age is 40. It’s not uncommon to see mothers and daughters shopping in the stores together.

“I am excited to open our first-ever Evsie stores and continue the expansion of this brand,” said Kornberg. “We’re thrilled to provide the tween girl and her mom comfortable fashion, with a great fit and amazing quality for its value.

“We’re confident in our continued growth opportunities within the market space and are happy to offer Evsie to even more customers.”

The versatile and affordable Evsie collection offers stylish and comfortable fashion across key categories such as denim, graphic tees, sweatshirts, dresses, accessories, pajamas and intimate apparel.

Maurices interprets trends in a wearable and value-driven way. For example, a halter neck lace dress for women is $44.90 and a gray metallic wrap mini dress is $39.90. The intimates collection for sizes XS to 3X offers several sub-brands, including invisibliss bras and panties, $19.90, reduced to $10. The retailer describes itself as a women’s fashion brand offering size-inclusive clothing that “celebrates feel-good fashion for real life.”

Maurices offers a plethora of options for plus-size shoppers, from dresses, jumpsuits and jeans to maternity and swimwear. There’s also a Plus Lounge Shop and Plus Work Essentials, not to mention 24/7 Tees and tanks.

Kornberg said there’s been a white space in the market for a new tween brand to step in for some time. Justice, a major retailer for the cohort, went out of business, as did Athena.

The Evsie customer, according to Kornberg, is “a likable girl at home and at school, who’s caring and active and likes the outdoors. She likes being with her mom and friends and caring for her animals, and she’s on the [cusp] of exploring and finding her own style.”

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