JCPenney Hopes to Breathe Life into Retail Sales with Pop-Up Shops

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JCPenney, seemingly a permanent fixture in the news these days, seeks to push past the negative financial and branding headlines and tap into customer experience with their new pop-up shops, which will hopefully garner appeal from designer collaborations. 

The store, which is currently embroiled in a high-stakes trial with Macy’s and Martha Stewart over product licenses, has had a rough time since CEO Ron Johnson took over a year ago. The brand’s “no markdown” strategy backfired, and word on the street is that employee morale has hit an all-time low at the company’s Plano, Texas headquarters. 

However, the company had a moment during the Oscars broadcast. The new campaign, a series of commercials introducing JCP’s latest brand partnerships expanded on last year’s rebranding campaign with Ellen DeGeneres. It also boosted activity on Facebook and Twitter, rewarding some followers with gift certificates.

Now, with the success of shop-in-shop brands like Sephora, MNG by Mango, Levi’s Denim Bar and Liz Claiborne, the retailer is adding more designers to its in-store boutique lineup and plans to expand to home goods later this spring. Each brand will have their own design aesthetic within their individual shop.

With its in-store designer additions, J.C. Penney joins Target, Macy’s (now battling JCP in court over Martha Stewart) and Bloomingdale’s as the latest department store to experiment with boutique-style shops. In fact, JCP is stealing from Target’s playbook with a new exclusive home goods collection by American architect Michael Graves—Target’s first designer partnership, which launched in 1999 and produced a whopping 2,000 items—and Justin Timberlake’s William Rast collection, which launched as a Target exclusive in 2010.

Other upcoming JCPenney designer collaborations include in-store boutiques for Happy Chic by Jonathan Adler, Designs by Conran, Watchgear by Tourneau, Carters and Giggles. Here’s a look at the in-store boutiques now hitting its stores:[more]

Joe Fresh

Canadian retailer Joe Fresh, the number one apparel brand in Canada, was founded by Joe Mimran after selling his Club Monaco brand to Ralph Lauren in 1999, launching the brand in 2004 as a private label for in-store boutiques at Loblaw’s grocery stores nationwide. Dipping its toe into the U.S. market with a few locations including two in New York, Joe Fresh will broaden its customer base by bringing its peppy and preppy men’s and women’s apparel to around 700 JCP stores. Retailing for under $70, Joe Fresh’s mix of colorful basics with a modern spin is already online and will hit JCP stores on March 15.

William Rast

Now exclusive to JCP, William Rast combines Americana style with premium denim. Co-founded by Justin Timberlake and Trace Ayala and previously sold at Target with a side sponsorship with NASCAR, the new JCP-exclusive collection will include clothing and accessories for men from $12 to $250. 

Pearl by Georgina Chapman

Georgina Chapman of Marchesa (and Project Runway All-Stars fame) is launching her first diffusion line, Pearl, with JCP. The collection will feature cocktail dresses and formal attire available March 1. The clothes will be at a higher price point ranging from $50 to $250. 

L’Amour Nanette Lepore 

Fashion designer Nanette Lepore presents her first juniors line L’Amour at JCP. Set to hit stores on March 1, the collection is a youthful take on Lepore’s classic designs. Fun patterns and bright colors adorn this collection, all under $50.  

Cosabella Amore

Italian lingerie brand Cosabella has created a Cosabella Amore collection exclusively for JCP. Priced between $10 to $50, the brand mixes luxury and affordability in their lingerie and loungewear collection. 

LULU by Lulu Guinness

British designer Lulu Guinness landed at JCP on February 22nd. The line, appropriately named LULU, includes fashion accessories and cheap and chic (and cheeky) handbags that will retail from $20 to $60. 

Duro Olowu

The London-based designer brings his affinity for patterns and texture to his home, apparel and accessories collection launching March 1. The vibrant pieces will retail for under $100. 

Michael Graves

Who didn’t buy one of the bird tea kettles from his budget-friendly collection for Target? Now the starchitect is launching a now exclusive-to-Target collection in March, which recalls some of his previous Target items with its bird logo and, yes, kettle. Graves commented in a press release,

“To say I am thrilled to be working with JCPenney on re-inventing its Home department is an understatement. The creative and talented JCPenney team is committed to bringing great design to its customers. They have challenged me and my design team to create the best possible designs for the JCPenney customer so they will be proud to own, use and display our work – we’re calling it ‘design for a decade’ – products that will not only make you smile, but will enhance your home for years to come. I am so excited to help JCPenney become America’s Favorite Store.”

Below, a look at JCP’s 2013 Oscars TV campaign highlighting its designer collections:

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