J.C. Penney has announced a new partnership with "Project Runway" that lands the department store retailer as a fixture on the design-competition reality show. J.C. Penney will be the exclusive retailer for “Project Runway” for seasons 16 and 17, as well as “Project Runway All Stars” for season seven. The retailer will sponsor a design challenge during each season, with the winning design featured online and in select stores the morning after the episode airs. In addition, the winner of each season will have the chance to collaborate with J.C. Penney on a capsule of merchandise for the Project Runway Collection. Lastly, the J.C. Penney Accessory Wall will be a part of the show, and winning looks from “Project Runway All Stars” will be featured online.
Total Retail's Take: Innovative partnerships have been integral to J.C. Penney's turnaround strategy, and this deal with "Project Runway" represents the latest example. The department store chain has successfully partnered with leading brands Sephora and Nike to open branded shops within its stores, and now it's looking to the exposure it can get on Project Runway to help boost its largest product category, women's apparel, which has struggled to gain new customers and retain existing ones. The partnership does represent somewhat of a departure from J.C. Penney's plan to shift away from an emphasis on apparel, which has long been its leading revenue producer, into new growth categories such as appliances and toys. Exclusive apparel collections have worked for other retailers in the past — think of Target's collaboration with Lilly Pulitzer (minus the website crash) — so we'll have to see how the J.C. Penney-"Project Runway" partnership pans out.