Ever since launching his eponymous brand in 2009, designer Prabal Gurung has focused on creating contemporary fashion that feels as powerful as it is effortless. With a knack for making a killer dress and a penchant for a bold color palette, the Nepal-born, New York-based designer is now ready to take his luxury label to the mass market with a new collaboration with JCPenney.
“I always want to invite people to my world through my clothes… and have a substantial conversation,” Gurung tells Refinery29. “Hopefully, they’ll understand that fashion and substance don’t need to be mutually exclusive.”
It’s this ethos that opened the designer to the idea of a collaboration with a retail giant like JCPenney that has previously launched partnerships with the likes of Halston and Duro Olowu. Titled “iMPOWER,” the collection is inspired by Gurung’s relationship with his mother and other women in his life: “All my life every instrumental monumental thing that has happened, it’s because of women,” he says.
Through 25 styles — all under $100 — Gurung laid out his vision for a spring-ready capsule wardrobe, from picnic-ready puff-sleeve dresses and work-appropriate wrap frockss to a black sequined cocktail dress and a black-and-white jumpsuit worthy of a wedding outing. Still, according to the designer, these aren’t occasion-specific garments: “I believe if you want to wear sequins early in the morning to get coffee, you should,” says Gurung, adding that he wants his customer to “unapologetically be yourself.”
Following collaborations with Etsy, American Girl, and Lane Bryant, Gurung says that bringing his clothes to JCPenney marks another chapter of his brand’s journey, especially when it comes to more inclusive sizing. (The collection ranges from XS to 3X.) While Gurung’s been championing diversity within the fashion industry for more than a decade, he feels there’s still a lot to be done, especially bringing fashion-forward, affordable, size-inclusive fashion to the mass market. “The change that we want to see in the industry is often at a snail pace,” he says. “I am hoping they [customers] understand that there are creatives who see them; it matters to me that people feel validated.”
JCPenney’s chief merchandising officer Michelle Wlazlo agrees: “It’s about access, it’s about inclusivity, but it’s beautiful fashion first and foremost an amazing quality at a great value,” she says.
The Prabal Gurung x JCPenney collaboration is now available on on JCPenney.com and in select JCPenney stores.
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