J.C. Penney on Monday announced a new women’s apparel line inspired by the work of Erin Robertson, the season 15 winner of the fashion design talent show “Project Runway,” according to a company press release.
The line will be in 500 J.C. Penney stores and on JCPenney.com Sept. 8. The retailer will also be the retail sponsor of the show’s 16th and 17th seasons, plus its seventh “all-star” show.
It’s the first time the show has partnered with a national retailer and released an apparel brand available nationally year-round, according to a statement from Harvey Weinstein, co-chairman of The Weinstein Company, which now owns the show.
This isn't J.C. Penney's first collaboration with "Project Runway:" Last year the retailer tapped 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.
This time around, the Project Runway brand assortment will include a mix of contemporary and street styles (including one-shoulder dresses, pencil skirts and cold-shoulder blouses). In September, the assortment will highlight luxe details with lace accents, hardware embellishments and dramatic sleeves. Plus a few "notable pieces" will include off-the-shoulder bomber jackets, wide-leg track pants and fashion sweatshirts in rose, burgundy and black, the company said.
"Millions of viewers aspire to emulate the fashion-forward looks first conceptualized during a Project Runway episode," J.C. Penney Chief Merchant John Tighe said in a statement. "This strategic collaboration enables us to work directly with up-and-coming design talent from Project Runway and increase our assortment of contemporary apparel, while gaining a fresh perspective on what women are seeking when curating the ultimate wardrobe."
The discount department store has been working to improve its women’s apparel, a category that consistently dragged down results last year. Last month the retailer announced it 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.
That level of effort must continue, GlobalData Retail Managing Director Neil Saunders said in a note emailed to Retail Dive earlier this year. “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.”