A brand with a very convoluted history, American Living was originally launched in 2008 as a collaboration between JCPenney and the Polo Ralph Lauren Corporation. The enormous undertaking included clothes for men, women, and children, and it exuded Americana with its patriotic logo (an eagle juxtaposed against a flag). Though Lauren's involvement had been well publicized before the launch, the company decided not to put its name on the products at all--in part to prevent brand confusion. Still, JCPenney was incredibly optimistic about the brand's success and predicted that it could be a $1 billion idea.
In reality, American Living was nowhere near as successful as executives had hoped it would be. After four years marked by disappointing sales results, Ralph Lauren officially discontinued its association with JCPenney in 2012, and American Living was quickly pulled from stores. Two years later, however, the JCPenney competitor Macy's resurrected the American Living name--this time without any involvement from Ralph Lauren--and began positioning it as a diverse women's brand. Macy's currently has about 850 stores across the country in addition to a massive e-commerce presence. The retailer sells a number of popular house brands in addition to carrying apparel from major manufacturers.
While JCPenney no longer sells the original American Living collection, you'll find that plenty of clothes from the brand are still available via resale. The collection is marked by the preppy style often associated with Ralph Lauren, and options include button-down shirts, polos, sweaters, cardigans, blouses, and dresses. Clothes are upscale casual and are slightly classier than typical everyday wear.
The current American Living collection available from Macy's steps away from the reputation associated with the JCPenney version of the brand. Rather than being overtly preppy, Macy's treats American Living as a line of casualwear and semiformal apparel. Tops include henleys, tees, sweaters, pullovers, sweatshirts, and turtlenecks. You'll also find loungewear and activewear options like hoodies, sweatpants, and sweater jackets. If the brand's tops are designed to complement your regular routine, its dresses are better suited for a night out. Options like wrap dresses, jersey dresses, ruched dresses, sheath dresses, cap-sleeved dresses, and jacquard dresses are designed to make wearers look and feel sexy. Simplistic designs are accentuated by elegant patterns and colors. You'll also find that stylistic adornments like floral prints, stripes, and polka dots bring an air of whimsy to these versatile garments.
When a brand goes through as many changes as American Living has, it can be difficult for it to establish a lasting identity that consumers can easily identify. As this collection rebounds under new ownership, it has emerged as something of a hodgepodge. Blending its original, preppy roots with a vision for the brand's future that Macy's is trying to project, American Living is tough to pin down in its current state. Still, in spite of lacking continuity among its garments, the line has consistently produced several great designs. While it might not be possible to build a wardrobe from American Living products, therefore, many of the individual apparel options offered by this brand have an undeniable flair. We give American Living 4 stars out of 5.
- Established 2008
- Casual and semiformal apparel
- Sold at:
- Macy's stores and online
- Types of items:
- Tees, polos, button-down shirts, blouses, pullovers, henleys, turtlenecks, sweaters, sweatshirts, sweatpants, dresses, jackets
- Related brands:
- Alfani, American Rag, Epic Threads, First Impressions, Charter Club, Bar III, Ideology, I.N.C. International Concepts, Style&Co., Ralph Lauren