By  on May 11, 2005

PLANO, Tex. — For J.C. Penney, delivering fashion trends in its private label merchandise is a balancing act between edgy and safe.

"The key is you want to have your own personality as a department store, but you don"t want to be off in left field," said David Hacker, Penney"s trend director for women"s apparel and accessories. "Interpretation is a key thing here."

Penney"s analyzes runway shows, magazines, celebrities, TV, the Internet, trend services and global street fashions to pinpoint key styles, he said. The retail chain then interprets them for its customers in 19 private brands sold in 1,017 stores in the U.S. as well as in its catalogue and on its Web site.

Hacker spoke at a seminar on color and trends on May 3 at Penney"s headquarters here to members of the Dallas Fashion Incubator and the Dallas chapter of Fashion Group International. The talk was one of a series the retailer is sponsoring to educate aspiring local designers.

"We know our customer doesn"t want to buy something she"s never seen before," Hacker said. "We don"t always want to be first to have something ... .You have to be a media hog and see what"s going on out there.""

To illustrate, he showed runway images of fall 2004 fashions and discussed trends that would carry through to this fall, such as circle, pleated and full skirts; multicolor tweed short jackets; plaid, cropped pants; fur stoles and trims; coats; prints; feminine dresses, and textured knits.

"So much of what we see is ethereal," he noted, referring to runway fashions. "Color is one of the easiest elements we can do that affects fashion."

Hacker and Penney"s designers examine palettes from Color Services, Percler, Doneger Group and Color Box to help select palettes for each private brand.

The retailer"s women"s apparel labels go from contemporary, such as MixIt and W, to conservative, such as Worthington and St. John"s Bay.

"We focus on trends our customer will accept and that she is geared toward," said Geoffrey Henning, Penney"s design director for MixIt, Worthington and W.

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