Old Navy integrates its plus-size women’s business

Aug 18, 2021, 7:51 AM | Updated: Aug 19, 2021, 4:59 am


Gap Inc.’s low-price division Old Navy is overhauling its approach to how it designs and markets to plus-size women, a demographic that many analysts say has been underserved.

Starting Friday, Old Navy will be offering every one of its women’s styles in all sizes with no price difference. That means sizes 0-28 in stores and up to size 30 online.

The 1,200-store chain will also be displaying its large sizes together with the standard sizes on the floor. The fashions will be displayed on mannequins in sizes four, 12 and 18. Online, the chain is merging its plus size and standard sizes together, with models appearing in all three sizes.

The moves, announced Wednesday, are expected to help Old Navy reach $10 billion in annual sales by 2023, up from $8 billion in 2019, company executives said.

Old Navy joins Target, Nordstrom and others, which over the past few years have been adding more plus-size offerings, and many are integrating them next to standard sizes. They’re also adding fuller-size mannequins on the selling floor and showing more plus-size models in their marketing.

Still, the common practice for department stores and other retailers is to have separate areas for plus sizes, but they also devote separate sections for petite sizes, says Neil Saunders, managing director of research firm GlobalData Retail. Walmart, for instance, has a separate plus-size shop on its apparel floors.

Over the years, retailers have expanded their offerings to cater to plus-size women. But analysts believe the commitment vacillated and stores never made this customer base feel part of the shopping experience, often leaving them out of marketing materials.

Analysts believe this time around, the push will be long term as they’re under pressure from shoppers to be more inclusive. Clothing retailers are increasingly struggling to attract customers and are looking for new opportunities to pump up sales.

“We have entered at a time when inclusion finally expands beyond race, nationality and income level,” said Marshal Cohen, chief industry advisor at NPD Group. “It includes sizes. We have finally gotten there.”

“For too long, too many women have not been included in the retail industry. That means if you were a size 16 or 18, which is the average size of a woman in America, you had very limited choice,” said Alison Partridge Stickney, head of women’s merchandising at Old Navy. “We knew there was opportunity to do more.”

The International Journal of Fashion Design, Technology and Education published a study in 2016 that the average American woman wears a size 16 to 18.

Sales of plus-size women’s and men’s clothing hit $27 billion in 2019, up from $19.9 billion in 2012, according to GlobalData. Women’s plus-sizes accounts for 19% of total women’s clothing in the U.S. for the 12 months ending May, according to NPD’s Consumer Tracking Service. That’s up one percentage point from the same time last year.

Old Navy first started offering a limited plus-size collection in 2004. In 2018, it launched plus-size shops in 75 U.S. stores.

But it realized it needed to go deeper. To reinvent the design process, it did body scans of 389 women to create digital avatars based on real women’s bodies and ran fit clinics. It also examined every design detail like pocket placement.

Old Navy is also integrating its design process for both standard and larger sizes; previously, there were two teams. Company executives say they’re sharing their knowledge with Gap and Banana Republic teams. Another division, Athleta, has been prominently displaying its designs on full-figure mannequins.

Saunders of GlobalData Retail, says the price disparity between standard sizes and large sizes — anywhere between 5% to 15% by his estimates — is no longer a common practice at stores. Analysts say the reason for the gap is because of economies of scale, since it costs more to produce a smaller collection. Also, more material is involved.


Follow Anne D’Innocenzio: http://twitter.com/ADInnocenzio

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Associated Press

Explosion in Polish parish house kills 1, injures 7

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Officials in southern Poland said that a person was found dead Friday after an explosion demolished half of an old Evangelical parish house in the city of Katowice. The explosion injured at least seven people, and one person remained missing, according to the regional governor. Gov. Jaroslaw Wieczorek said two women […]
7 hours ago
Associated Press

Ford recalls nearly 383K SUVs to fix backup camera problem

DETROIT (AP) — Ford is recalling nearly 383,000 SUVs in the U.S. because the touch screens may not display a camera image when backing up. The recall covers certain 2020 to 2023 Ford Explorers and Lincoln Aviators, and some 2020 to 2022 Lincoln Corsairs. All are equipped with 360-degree cameras. Ford says in government documents […]
7 hours ago
A new Jeep is delivered to a dealership in Pittsburgh on Monday, Jan. 23, 2023. On Friday, the Comm...
Associated Press

US inflation and consumer spending cooled in December

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Federal Reserve’s preferred inflation gauge eased further in December, and consumer spending fell — the latest evidence that the Fed’s series of interest rate hikes are slowing the economy. Friday’s report from the Commerce Department showed that prices rose 5% last month from a year earlier, down from a 5.5% year-over-year […]
7 hours ago
Coal miner Jonny Sandvoll poses for a portrait in the break room of the Gruve 7 coal mine in Advent...
Associated Press

Norway’s last Arctic miners struggle with coal mine’s end

ADVENTDALEN, Norway (AP) — Kneeling by his crew as they drilled steel bolts into the low roof of a tunnel miles-deep into an Arctic mountain, Geir Strand reflected on the impact of their coal mine’s impending closure. “It’s true coal is polluting, but … they should have solution before they close us down,” Strand said […]
7 hours ago
FILE - An American Express logo is attached to a door in Boston's Seaport District, Wednesday, July...
Associated Press

AmEx profits fall 9% as customers fall behind on payments

NEW YORK (AP) — American Express saw its fourth-quarter profits fall by 9%, as the credit card giant had to set aside significantly more money to cover potentially bad loans. The company saw charge offs and delinquencies rise, a troubling sign for a company whose customer base is usually well-to-do and extremely creditworthy. But the […]
7 hours ago
FILE - A couple watches the sun set from a park Saturday, July 10, 2021, in Kansas City, Mo.  Debts...
Associated Press

In Your Debt: How couples can team up on debt repayment

Between financially helping his parents and losing income as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Jeremy Mazza landed into serious credit card debt. Relief came from a source he wasn’t expecting: his partner, Ginna Lambert, who had come into a small inheritance. She suggested “investing” part of her bounty in their shared future by lending […]
7 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

(Photo via MLB's Arizona Fall League / Twitter)...
Arizona Fall League

Top prospects to watch at this year’s Arizona Fall League

One of the most exciting elements of the MLB offseason is the Arizona Fall League, which began its 30th season Monday.
Quantum Fiber

How high-speed fiber internet can improve everyday life

Quantum Fiber supplies unlimited data with speeds up to 940 mbps, enough to share 4K videos with coworkers 20 times faster than a cable.
Children’s Cancer Network

Children’s Cancer Network celebrates cancer-fighting superheroes, raises funds during September’s Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

Jace Hyduchak was like most other kids in his kindergarten class: He loved to play basketball, dress up like his favorite superheroes and jump as high as his pint-sized body would take him on his backyard trampoline.
Old Navy integrates its plus-size women’s business