In news that's been whispered about from people who heard from store associates AND a hit with the combination of plus sizes and “regular” women's sizes on their website, Old Navy announced today that it's going to have all sizes* in all stores, with price parity.
Old Navy BODEQUALITY highlights:
- Starting later this week, Old Navy will offer sizes 0-28 and XS-4X for all of it's items in-store.
- Sizes 00 and 30 will still only be found online. (Note: their 4X is a 28/30, so the size 30s being left out are likely denim, pants, shorts, etc.)
- There will be no price difference between “straight” and “plus” sizes.
- This will be in all stores.
- All sizes will be together – no separate sections.
- There will be 3 different mannequin sizes in-store: 4, 12, and 18.
- Sizes have been revamped using body scans of different women, using different fit models, holding fit clinics, and performing other market research.
Whenever I hear news of more plus sizes or an expansion of a line, I take it in with a healthy dose of skepticism. As an extended plus (size 28) person, most expansions don't include my size, the offerings are watered down, or are available online only. In this case, Old Navy has offered plus sizes online up to size 30 for a very long time. I've spent a lot of money at Old Navy throughout the years and appreciated that they offered a decent range of items in an affordable price range. (Here's a search of 27+ pages of blog posts where I've shared Old Navy.)
Throughout the years, Old Navy has started and stopped several plus-size initiatives. At first, plus sizes were online only. In 2018, they introduced a plus-size section to about 75 of their 1200 stores. Feedback was a little lackluster from people who experienced this in-store – small section, not organized, near the back of the store… basically, all the things we plus consumers are expecting when we shop somewhere with “all” sizes. In Fall 2019, they introduced “Size YES” concept stores, where all sizes would be in store, at the same prices as “regular” sizes. There weren't many of these stores, and beyond the initial announcement, I never heard much about it. What I have heard over the past year or so is that the stores that had plus-size sections were losing floor space slowly. We now know it was likely in anticipation of this very large change.
It's a massive lift to introduce this completely different shopping experience and set of offerings across an ENTIRE assortment and across over one thousand stores. This is a move very similar to what their sister company, Athleta, did earlier this year. It was an emotional, overwhelming, and wonderful experience personally to shop in-store at Athleta – so much so that I wrote over 2500 words here to try to explain it. Since Old Navy has made such a material investment into this, I have some hope that it will be a good thing in the end. It's not an investment that they can pull back from quickly, so chances are it will stick around for a lot longer than other stores attempts at “inclusivity.”
Old Navy is taking steps that address the common problems with size expansion/store introduction:
- All stores: Having items in all stores really gives all consumers the opportunity to discover the size ranges. It is especially helpful with back-to-school happening right now, where many mom's are shopping for their kids clothes at Old Navy. They have the foot traffic to be able to drive interest.
- Assortment: The mix of items a brand chooses to introduce into plus or in-store is important. We're often given limited options in standard cuts, colors, and prints. It's snooze-city (looking at you, White House Black Market.) I was so surprised at Athleta when all the styles I wanted in-store came in my size. While Athleta still has some more to go with their size expansion – 100% of their styles don't come in their full size run – Old Navy seems to have taken it all the way. I hope this is actually the case.
- Marketing: Many brands fall flat with marketing plus size changes in their business. They launch, don't really share the news beyond a few media outlets and some big influencers, and then complain that no one bought them (“there wasn't demand”) before abruptly pulling them. Afterwards, I'll hear from readers who didn't know these stores had plus in the first place. With this campaign, Old Navy is doing a lot of advertising featuring SNL and Shrill star, Aidy Bryant. The inclusion of multiple size mannequins in-store is also a big step to letting those who already shop there know that they have more. This will help with word-of-mouth in a way that shoving a section in the back corner of a store could never do. I wondered aloud on Instagram Stories if they were going to work with any influencers, and I heard back from a couple of large ones. This is good! (Old Navy, if you want another influencer who is 40, at the top of your size range, and talks about you all the time, hit me up.)
Still, there are a couple of glaring things that stop me from going full-on wild about this campaign.
- Sizes 00 and 30 not being in-stores. I don't understand why they would go alllll this way to not include these. It creates another divide and feeling of exclusion among those at the 2 spectrums of the size range. I hope they change their minds and put these in-store. That being said, the size 4X is a 28/30 so hopefully the size 30 customer can still be served somewhat… just not with single size items.
- Size 4X/30 doesn't make you “size inclusive.” It's interesting in their press release that they say “more inclusive” which actually is good, but in the news it gets translated to “all bodies” or “size inclusive.” There are many people above a size 30, that this is excluding. My hope is that with the immense resources Old Navy has, they can expand the size ranges even more. There are very few retailers that have the resources to do this.
I look forward to shopping in-store when I get back from vacation. Let me know in the comments – are you all excited about this? Skeptical? I'd love to hear!