Aiming For Reinvention, JCPenney Taps Designer Prabal Gurung

JCPenney is looking to elevate its style game, teaming up with designer Prabal Gurung for a surprising capsule collection.

Gurung’s brightly-colored designs, including plenty of floral dresses and jumpsuits, come in 25 size-inclusive styles, all priced under $100. They’re expected to go on sale early next month.

Style collabs are a tactic frequently used by rivals Kohl’s and Target. Target has been especially skillful at spinning them into fashion buzz. Its 2013 collaboration with Gurung was a home run, almost selling out in a single day.

The partnership is a decidedly different move for JCPenney, still looking for its fashion groove as it continues its reinvention. Gurung continues to be a fixture in the high end of the fashion industry and has been a favorite of Michelle Obama, Oprah Winfrey and Kate Middleton.



Ads for the line, shot by fashion photog Norman Jean Roy, star six style-setters, including model Shalom Harlow; Natalia Bryant, daughter of the late Kobe Bryant; and Varsha Thapa, a singer and animal rights activist; and Nyakio Grieco, founder of ThirteenLune, a platform for Black-owned beauty brands.

JCPenney says it is donating $10,000 to each of the women’s designated charity. It is also contributing  to Shikshya Foundation Nepal, a nonprofit supported by Gurung.

The Plano, Texas-based retailer emerged from bankruptcy in 2020 when Simon Properties, the shopping mall giant, acquired it. Simon does not break out financial results for its retail brands. But in results released earlier this month said both JCPenney and Forever 21, which it also owns, had been pressured by inflation and consumers pulling back on discretionary spending.

Earlier this month, JC Penney hired Keith Melker as its new chief transformation and strategy officer, focusing on driving traffic, further advancing digital growth and forming strategic partnerships. Katie Mullen continues as chief digital officer.

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