JCPenney aims to conquer Gen Z with new prom exclusive - Brand Innovators

JCPenney aims to conquer Gen Z with new prom exclusive

JCPenney is launching its first-ever prom collaboration, in partnership with costume designer Johnny Wujek, in a move to bring affordable formal wear to diverse working families.

Wujek, who is known for creating red carpet looks for the likes of Katy Perry, Nicki Minaj, Kim Kardashian, Ariana Grande and Zac Efron, grew up with the brand and thought it would be the ideal home for his prom collection ideas.

“Growing up as a kid in the Midwest, JCPenney was my first big department store – from shopping there for special occasions to having family members work there, it’s a part of my fashion journey,” said Wujek, in a statement shared with Brand Innovators. “When I was in high school, prom night felt like the Oscars or Grammys – what you wore was special and a way to express yourself, which is why I’m so honored to create a bold and disruptive collection with JCPenney.” 

The collection includes 22 statement pieces such as gowns with removable straps and reversible skirts, colorful suits and jackets with zip off tails so that they can be worn in different ways. The products are available in a range of sizes with a cost of $59-250. Additionally, to promote itself as a destination for all things prom, JCPenney Beauty is hosting makeup sessions and hair styling services and JCPenney Portraits is accommodating dance photos.

“It was a perfect fit. It’s just an incredible way to do something that’s unique and different in the marketplace, but also connects everything we do at JCPenney, which is occasions, our salon, our beauty area. It’s really a collaboration on the full experience,” said Michelle Wlazlo, chief merchandising officer at JCPenney. “At JCPenney, we want to do accessible fashion and we also want to stand with our communities.”

The retailer is going through a rebrand to position itself as a brand for younger consumers and working families with a long-term plan to reinvest $1B in its business by 2025. This investment includes a revamp of the company’s website, as well as new mannequins to promote collections like Wujek’s line in stores. 

As a nod to the brand’s push to support the communities they serve, the retailer is also running a contest to pay for proms. At select stores around the country, local high schools can share their story for the chance to win money to put on a dance. JC Penney is donating up to $250,000 to deserving high schools to help them with their prom.

“We had our stores’ teams nominate schools,” explained Wlazlo. “We don’t just sell clothing and fashion, we also link things back to the community. This particular collaboration is really heartwarming and special to think that a few schools will have a prom donated for them.”