JCPenney is targeting millennial men with a new clothing line endorsed by Russell Simmons.
It's called Argyleculture. #Argylelife is emblazoned across the website, in case you didn't already get that it's targeting millennials. Previously, Argyleculture was sold at Macy's.
"This demographic has a lot of spending power and is very opinionated about the style and fit of his clothes," John Tighe, chief merchant for JCPenney, told the Street.
Sales of menswear increased 13% from 2010 to 2015, according to Euromonitor, outpacing the growth of womenswear.
But there are a few obvious problems with JCPenney's plan.
1. Russell who?
Russell Simmons himself isn't a well-known figure to many millennials. He reached prominence in the late 80s and early 90s — when millennials were either too young to remember or weren't born yet. At 58, he's too old for most 18 to 35-year-olds to relate to.
Some millennials will see the name and not recognize it. Even those who do could assume the line isn't made for them.
2. Targeting the "urban graduate"
Simmons says he's targeting "stylish urban graduate who is driven and passionate about growing a successful career." This target demographic is described as cross-cultural, and from diverse backgrounds.
Most JCPenney stores aren't in urban city centers, though. Compare with, for example, H&M — another retailer going after the same segment of men. There are 11 H&M stores in Manhattan, New York City. JCPenney has one store in the same area. So what Simmons must instead be targeting is those aspiring to be a "urban graduates." And that just doesn't read as authentic.
"Urban Graduate" sounds like it might be a euphemism for young urban professional, except that they might not quite have that professional job yet.
3. Does anyone still wear argyle?
The clothing misses the mark. Let's just be honest for a second. If a friend of yours wore most of the #Argylestyle collection to dinner, brunch, or a night out on the town, you'd laugh at them. Argyle in 2016? Newsboy caps? Bow ties? Bold reds? Men's fashion has moved far, far beyond this stuff, and it's cringeworthy to see it being produced and sold now.
It's not just that the styles are not current —it's that they miss the mark by so much. The style is about 10 years too late. If JCPenney wants a new image, it's going to need to get get serious about staying current and selling clothes that people want to wear today.
What JCPenney really needs right now is a reason for a millennial guy to come into the store at all. "Stylish college graduates who live in urban areas and are ambitious" do exist. I'm just not sure they want to wear argyle.
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