J.C. Penney will add another venerable name to its men’s wear mix for fall — Alexander Julian.
This story first appeared in the May 27, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
For the first season, the Texas-based retailer will offer exclusively the new Alexander Julian Colours line of wovens, knits and sweaters within its classification department. The line, whose hallmark will be its bold use of color, is being produced under license by Hampshire Group Ltd.
Calling Julian “a legitimate, authentic American designer who is known for his use of color,” Steve Lawrence, executive vice president and general merchandise manager of men’s wear for J.C. Penney Co. Inc., said the merchandise will “help our floors, particularly in the sweater pad.” It will fall within the store’s better pricing offering.
Mark Lepine, president of Hampshire, said the collection will “speak to [Julian’s] heritage of classic Americana” and will offer a variety of colorful options designed to appeal to the traditional men’s wear customer. Retail prices will range between $40 and $55 and the “foundation of the line” will be wovens and sweaters. Knits will be added for spring, he said.
“These designs are not only timeless but an opportunity for self-expression,” Julian said. “The ability to offer newness at an accessible price point, without sacrificing taste or quality, is of special importance during these challenging times. The emphasis on eye-catching color has always been a key component in my designs and will offer this customer a different perspective from the tried and true.”
Alexander Julian Colours will be carried in around 600 Penney’s doors and will be marketed through the company’s regular promotional vehicles, Lawrence said. There are no plans for an exclusive campaign. The collection will bolster the retailer’s neotraditional area, which Lawrence has defined as “the sweet spot between classic and updated.” It is expected to appeal to a 35- to 44-year-old consumer. Joe Joseph Abboud, a collection of sportswear, tailored clothing, furnishings, outerwear and footwear that Penney’s will also introduce exclusively for fall, is expected to appeal to the same customer.
The line that will be offered at Penney’s is distinct from Colours by Alexander Julian, which is available at Belk and The Bay, and whose base is neckwear and dress shirts. The designer also offers a high-end men’s collection, Alexander Julian Private Reserve, built around dress sport shirts and some pants and shorts.
“Since we launched Colours by Alexander Julian at Saks and Neiman’s in 1981, there has been almost $2 billion worth of merchandise sold under that name,” Julian said. “It stands for something.” Over the course of his career, Julian has won one CFDA, five Coty and two Cutty Sark awards.
Penney’s has been aggressive in adding new men’s wear labels in the past few months. In addition to Colours and Joe, the retailer will bring RS by Sheckler, Rusty and Third Rail, a Zoo York Production to the young men’s department for back-to-school.