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Bankrupt JCP Bets on New Athleisure Brand

With consumers prioritizing comfort while they stay at home because of the pandemic, the athleisure and activewear categories have flourished this year.

Kohl’s has introduced a new private-label specialty athleisure brand to debut in March. California lifestyle chain PacSun launched PacSun Active, a new category “inspired by the importance of wellness and inclusivity.” Madewell debuted its first-ever loungewear collection. Adidas and Ivy Park unveiled a gender-neutral capsule of athleisure apparel and footwear.

And that’s just the past month.

J.C. Penney joined them Thursday in pursuing the comfort-seeking consumer with the introduction of Stylus. The new private-label “styleisure” brand is not to be confused with athleisure, though, the retailer said. Providing both comfort and style, Penney described Stylus as “a solution that reaches beyond the activewear category.”

The Stylus brand offers a variety of pieces—including cardigans, easy pants, jumpsuits and T-shirts—that can be mixed and matched. The Stylus brand size assortment ranges from XS to 3X, with pricing from $26 to $89 across all sizes.

Not asking shoppers to sacrifice comfort, J.C. Penney says the line uses ultra-soft fabrics that offer unrestricted movement and a relaxed fit. Modern color palettes are paired based on thoughtfully designed details—including tapered legs, curved hems, and twist-front tops. “The Stylus brand allows our customers to be comfortable and look and feel put together to elevate their every day,” it said.

Michelle Wlazlo, executive vice president and chief merchandising officer at J.C. Penney, said the Stylus brand serves customers looking for comfortable yet stylish apparel. “We began developing the concept of our styleisure line, which is exclusive to J.C. Penney, nearly a year ago to fill this unmet need as customers dress for their day,” she said in a statement. “The Stylus collection is a curated array of neutrals that make it easy to layer and swap pieces for a virtually endless combination of looks, representing true modern comfort and style.”

Nearly five months after filing for bankruptcy, J.C. Penney received court approval Monday for its sale to first-lien lenders and landlords. Under the sale terms, ownership of 160 stores and six distribution centers will go to the majority-group lenders via two separate real estate investment trusts, and the operating company, known at OpCo, will be sold to Simon Property Group and Brookfield Asset Management.