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JCPenney Taps Black Creatives and Designers for Black History Month Launches

This Black History Month, JCPenney is teaming up with a range of Black creatives, designers and business owners to “inspire customers and associates to use their voice and drive justice in the Black community,” it said.

The retailing giant, in partnership with artists like Houston White and Synthia Saint James, has developed a broad assortment of apparel, artwork and beauty products designed in honor of Black History Month, it announced Tuesday.

“We fully believe in using our voice to promote the equality of all people, and we believe that no one can be heard unless everyone is heard,” Michelle Wlazlo, executive vice president and chief merchant, said in a statement. “This year’s Black History Month collection was developed with great care in partnership with three renowned Black artists and we stand proudly in support of racial justice and equality.”

White, a Minneapolis-based artist, designed JCPenney’s Be the Change and Black Excellence apparel assortments. White is the founder of Houston White Men’s Room, a North Minneapolis barbershop that also sells streetwear and sportswear. The Be the Change collection features artwork from Dan Houston, an award-winning sculptor and painter known for his use of contrasting colors.

JCPenney’s Black Pride assortment, a collection of colorful apparel and artwork, aims to celebrate Black culture and embrace African heritage, it said. Saint James, a visual artist and the designer behind the U.S. Postal Service’s first Kwanzaa stamp, brought this message to life, creating vibrant landscapes to capture the essence of countries around the world.

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Artists like Houston White and Synthia Saint James helped design JCPenney's Be the Change, Black Excellence and Black Pride collections.

Next month, JCPenney also will be highlighting products from Black-owned or -founded brands in its Salon and Sephora divisions, as well as amplifying the voices of its non-profit partners who support Black students.

JCPenney customers can choose to round up their purchase to the nearest dollar at checkout. All contributions next month will go to organizations that prepare Black students for college and career experiences, it said. The company also plans to underwrite shopping experiences for select students during Suit Up events at 10 Historically Black Colleges and Universities to help students “look and feel their best as they take the first step in their career,” it added.

JCPenney kicked off the year by relaunching its Xersion activewear assortment, marking the first time the post-bankruptcy mass merchant has revamped the line since its introduction in 2008. Designed by JCPenney’s in-house product development and design team, Xersion activewear is built for performance and designed to give customers the “motivation to move,” regardless of size or fitness level, it said.