Swanky. It’s not the first word someone associates with J.C. Penney, but the event on Wednesday night that showcased its suit collection with Michael Strahan was exactly that.
Models wearing Strahan’s suits stood on pedestals in a dimly lit, smoky space in Chelsea while a varied assortment of Strahan’s celebrity friends made their way down the step-and-repeat. Guests included 50 Cent, Usher, Taye Diggs, Hilaria Baldwin, Joe Jonas, Nina Garcia and Kenneth Cole.
“I’m surprised by the party tonight and the turnout,” Strahan said. “We wanted to make the collection the new classic and that’s the whole feel for this event.”
The former NFL player turned TV personality — he hosts “Live! with Kelly and Michael” in the morning and doles out sports commentary on “Fox NFL Sunday” and “Good Morning America” — hasn’t worked in the apparel industry before but said many of his friends are in the business.
“I’ve been around this business for over 20 years and my friends have given me a lot of great advice,” he said.
Strahan, who said he wears the suits every day, is also looking to his friends and colleagues to be walking billboards for his new line. “All of the guys on ‘NFL Sunday’ wear the suits,” Strahan said.
While other department stores have heavily pushed celebrity-designed collections — Macy’s suit line with Ryan Seacrest is growing — J.C. Penney has been less active in that arena. John Tighe, who was recently promoted to chief merchant at J.C. Penney, said the opportunity to work with Strahan was a no-brainer.
“We were looking for something new to add to our portfolio and the idea to partner with someone like Michael Strahan doesn’t come along often,” Tighe said.
He expects the customer shopping Strahan’s collection to be diverse.
“The customer is anyone,” Tighe said. “I say that because Michael has such a broad appeal.”