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Main » 2016 » April » 14 » J.C. Penney creates its own plus-size women’s fashion brand
3:45 PM
J.C. Penney creates its own plus-size women’s fashion brand
J.C. Penney creates its own plus-size women’s fashion brandRetailers are recognizing that the plus-size shopper is interested in fashion, too.

J.C. Penney is launching Boutique+, a plus-size brand that its in-house designers have been working on since last year.

Project Runway’s Ashley Nell Tipton, 24, the first plus-size designer to win the reality TV competition, is creating two Boutique+ collections for fall and holiday.

Teens are fueling the category estimated to be about a $20 billion-a-year business.

"There are millions of incredibly stylish full-figured women who are seeking comfortable, well-fit clothes that offer style,” said Siiri Dougherty, senior vice president over women’s apparel. "J.C. Penney is committed to winning her loyalty by designing an entirely new modern brand.”

Penney is positioning the brand for the younger millennial shopper. Boutique+ will be priced from $12.99 for blouses and skirts to $39.99 for a jacket.

The merchandise will be in about 500 Penney stores and online May 1. Also, while most Penney stores already have a women’s plus-size department, about 200 stores are getting branded "The Boutique” departments.

The number of teens buying plus-size clothing has nearly doubled since 2012, according to market research firm NPD Group. Teens who say they buy plus-size clothing has grown to 34 percent from 19 percent in 2012. Plus size is generally considered 16 and above.

Teens told NPD that they think brands are designing plus-size clothing as an afterthought. Instead, plus-size clothing should be offered in the same styles available for their friends who wear smaller sizes, the research firm said.

More and more retailers are incorporating a mix of plus-size models in their advertising.

Target launched its own private brand for plus-size women in February 2015 called Ava & Viv. H&M started offering plus sizes in 2011. Lane Bryant, the longtime specialty chain in the plus category, has been spicing up its brand with designer collections from Melissa McCarthy, Isabel Toledo and Sophie Theallet. Last spring, Dallas native Lila Rose designed a collection for Lane Bryant.

"Teens are reinvigorating the plus-size market,” said Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst at NPD. He said retailers will probably "turn up the volume” on plus-size merchandise, a market that’s important but is sometimes overlooked.

Penney has always been a destination for special sizes, including children’s, petites and plus sizes for women. It has plus-size juniors departments in 400 stores. Penney also is adding more fashion to its women’s plus-size business through brands such as Liz Claiborne and Bisou Bisou.

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