Jason Bolden On How He Pieced Together His JCPenney Collaboration


John Hong

It’s 9 a.m. in the morning and Jason Bolden, the celebrity stylist has an exuberant energy that is pouring through the Zoom call we’re on. Our conversation is days ahead of the announcement of his forthcoming women’s and men’s collections which he created alongside JCPenney. When asked how the pieces came to fruition he shares that he’s had a long-standing relationship with the company. 

“This collaboration with JCPenney’s started long before these actual clothes [were] landing online and in-stores,” Jason tells ESSENCE.com. “I grew up in this space and I grew up going to JCPenney with my mom and my grandmother. It was my first introduction to fashion and touching and feeling clothes that were in a free-standing store,” he adds. 

Bolden goes on to express that it felt like an outer-body, full circle moment that his first in-store fashion collection is with the store. “Growing up in the Midwest, that was my fashion school,” he notes. “It hits all the senses for me, it feels like home.”

Though the stylist and image architect is known for the coveted looks he pieces together for the likes of Cynthia Erivo, Dwayne Wade, Michael B. Jordan, and more his JCPenney’s collections will be all about everyday, affordable luxury. Slated to arrive in select stores and online this fall, the menswear and womenswear pieces will give customers the chance to wear items approved by Bolden who himself has impeccable style. 

“[Jason] has so much history and loves, and believes in what JCPenney meant for his family,” said Michelle Wlazlo, chief merchandising officer at JCPenney.

The Worthington x Jason Bolden range will be a women’s collection–separately, the men’s range will be under a J. Ferrar x Jason Bolden imprint. For the former Bolden shared he looked to ‘90s off-duty supermodel looks in addition to his mother and his late grandmother who found their way on his mood boards. As for the menswear pieces, he shares that Sidney Poitier and James Dean were his largest inspirations. Sophistication was also a guiding light for both collections. 

“I remember my grandmother being super playful with clothes,” he shared. “When I think about the [Worthington] knits I think about my grandmother in the garden with the perfect pair of trousers on with a beautiful knit top on.”

All of these inclinations were combined with easy-to-wear prints and textures that can be meshed into one’s wardrobe. Bolden promises that the pieces are so elevated that even he has been secretly testing out some pieces with his everyday assortment of statement items. He excitedly mentions that one of his clients has worn a menswear piece already too. 

Elsewhere during our conversation, he reiterates that the Worthington knits are some of his favorite items that are a part of the forthcoming fall range. He notes they can be perfectly paired with denim, or even thrown on over a head-turning look.

“It came together so naturally, everything we’re doing at JCPenney is authentic to who we are, and who we serve, and [Jason is] an epitome of that,” Wlazlo said.


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