J.C. Penney is turning to popular shoe designer Libby Edelman, co-creator of Sam & Libby and Sam Edelman footwear, for an exclusive line of footwear, handbags, casual clothing and accessories, the retailer announced on Monday.
An initial collection featuring summer dresses, casual footwear and lightweight cross-body bags debuts July 14 in 500 stores and at JCPenney.com, followed by a full launch on Sept. 8, according to a company press release.
Penney redoubled turnaround efforts which includes closing underperforming stores, expanding healthier segments like home furnishings and home goods, and improving its apparel offering, particularly women’s.
Penney has been working to improve its women’s apparel, a category that consistently dragged down results last year. For that reason, it must continue to ramp up merchandising and marketing efforts in the category to entice shoppers into stores, GlobalData Retail managing director Neil Saunders said in a note emailed to Retail Dive.
“Despite the enhancements made to date, the offer is still not compelling enough to drive sales,” Saunders said of J. C. Penney’s fashion play. “Spring collections showed some signs of improvement, but there is much more work to do here if (J.C. Penney) is to turn this into a winning category.” To that end, last year the retailer tapped "Project Runway" winner Ashley Nell Tipton (the reality television competition’s first plus-size designer champion) to create capsule collections and headline the launch of an in-house plus-size brand, Boutique+, which the company said is aimed at millennial women.
In his statement regarding the retailer’s partnership with Edelman, whose designs are popular among price-savvy, practical fashionistas, Penney chief merchant John Tighe said the tie-up is aimed at bringing in those customers. “[W]e want to attract new customers by expanding our women's contemporary assortment and infusing newness into our brand portfolio through unique designer partnerships," he said. "Libby Edelman is the latest collection to showcase this new strategy as we move toward meeting customer demand for more trendy, casual fashion.”
Edelman will host a #SoWorthIt video series through the JCPenney YouTube channel, sharing tips on how to achieve great style for a busy life, the company said. The Libby Edelman collection will also be shared, posted and pinned across multiple J.C. Penney social media channels, in addition to traditional marketing efforts.