by Karen Alberg Grossman
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Michael Strahan in his new collection

Although celebrity collaborations are no guarantee of success, the odds seem well above average for Collection by Michael Strahan, a new JCPenney brand designed with the former football star, popular talk show host and much-admired sports commentator. “We’re very excited about this collaboration: it’s the first new men’s brand in a long time,” says JCP dvp James Starke. In addition to direct sourcing, Penney’s is working with Peerless and Randa on manufacturing.

Launching today in 200 JCPenney stores and online, the collection features tailored suit separates, sportcoats, dress shirts, neckwear, belts and accessories, merchandised as a complete collection in 500-square-feet environments with compelling fixtures and graphics. Out-the-door prices are under $200 for suits (ticket $380), and about $100 for sportcoats, $30 for wrinkle-free cotton dress shirts, $24 for neckwear; sizing runs through 60 (Strahan himself is 6’5″ and 275 pounds).

“We’re positioning it between our well-established classic Stafford label and our modern J. Ferrar,” says Starke. “The modelling is updated reflecting Strahan’s style: poly/wool blend suits (in navy, black, grey and blue herringbone) are two-button, side vented; shirts will feature moderate spread collars and tie widths will be at 3.5 inches.”

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Backed by strong marketing across all media (Strahan is on the cover of their current print mailer, in the commercials, on digital), Starke expects the brand to have broad appeal, including to female shoppers, big fans of “Live! With Kelly and Michael.” Of course, Strahan will wear (and promote) the clothing on all his TV shows, as will his colleagues on “Fox NFL Sunday.”

“Our men’s business is on a pretty good run, with clothing and furnishings particularly strong,” says Starke. “This is the perfect complement to our current assortment.”