J.C. Penney announced Tuesday it has teamed up with actress and style icon Tracee Ellis Ross, star of the sitcom "Blackish," to launch a holiday capsule collection, which will offer home décor and women’s apparel and accessories beginning Nov. 12.
Ross, daughter of Motown star and fashion icon Diana Ross, is well known as a model and fashion editor in addition to her acting and comedy, and she has a significant social media following, the company noted in a press release.
Items in the collection include women’s apparel in sizes small to 3X, with prices ranging from $29 to $74; handbags, totes and scarves ranging from $19 to $24; sleepwear from $17 to $34; and throw pillows, dessert dishes, high ball glasses and more, ranging from $12 to $19.
Women’s apparel has been an underperforming category for J.C. Penney, consistently dragging down its results, and the discount department store has worked to ramp up merchandising and marketing efforts in recent months. This summer, the retailer turned 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. Such moves are imperative if J.C. Penney is going to move the needle, according to GlobalData Retail managing director Neil Saunders.
"Despite the enhancements made to date, the offer is still not compelling enough to drive sales," Saunders said in a note emailed to Retail Dive earlier this year. "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 is aimed at millennial women.
"Blackish" is a popular show, known for its willingness to take on controversial topics on race, culture and politics, and the comedy's characters are also dressed quite stylishly; Anthony Anderson, who plays Ross's husband on the show, has a weakness for buying expensive sneakers. The set's home décor also gets a lot of attention on social media for its style and color pops.
"Known for her fresh, bold and confident looks, it’s no wonder that women seek to emulate Tracee’s style," Jodie Johnson, senior vice president of women’s apparel, jewelry, footwear and handbags for J.C. Penney, said in a statement. "Infused with her unique design aesthetic, the 'Tracee Ellis Ross for J.C. Penney' capsule collection offers an affordable selection of stylish and gift-able items that gives customers another reason to shop us this holiday season."