We'd been hearing about Cintra Wilson (a.k.a. The Critical Shopper for The New York Times)'s scathing take-down of the new Manhattan JCPenney all day -- New York Magazine's "The Cut" said Wilson determined the store only catered to "two primary markets: fat people and tacky people," while Racked rightly "didn't know where to start quoting" -- but even those reviews hadn't really prepared us for how harsh it really was.
Wilson is flabbergasted at the store's decision not to "vigorously rebrand itself" for its big Manhattan debut, describing it as a "dowdy Middle American entity [waddling] into Midtown in its big old shorts and flip-flops."(Ouch.) She blasts the chain for having trafficked for years in knock-offs that even Canal Street wouldn't sell (again, ouch), though she does admit that the juniors section, at least, seems to have some "new energy."
She does point out, correctly, that J.C.Penney was really the birthmother of "masstige" (a mash-up for mass and prestige) -- the idea of taking a designer's aesthetic and putting a downmarket, mass-appeal spin on it. Though, in this case, it seems everything winds up made out of polyester. Oh, and don't get us started on how she thinks all the mannequins are fat. Sigh. Just read the whole article for yourselves.
UPDATE: Ms. Wilson's numerous apologies (some redacted, some more formal) are covered in detail here.