I’m giving myself a pat on the back for this one. I’ve been campaigning for this via customer surveys since 2013 or so. I was finally invited to be a member of the Gap Inc. Insiders panel, and I’ve been blowing them up over there too. I’d love to see Gap follow suit since I can only get the odd piece from them now. On the other hand, Old Navy has been one of my staple stores since I was a pre-teen. I’ll never forget Christmas of 2000 when I got a pair of corduroy cargo pants and a fleece tech vest. I’d never been skiing but my outfit was ready to hit the slopes (or at the least the lodge). Anyway, Old Navy is a great place for basics and trends. Need a pair of jeans? Old Navy. You’re starting an office job and need some business casual pieces to get you through to your first paycheck? Old Navy. Beachwear for a vacation? Old Navy. Seasonal graphic tee? Old Navy. Baby shower gift? Old Navy. But for several years, my only option has been to shop online, spending hours scrutinizing the image photos, fabric and fit description, and hope for the best while waiting weeks for the clothes to ship to my front door. And with the pandemic still in full force, I’ll be doing the bulk of my non-essential shopping online. Still, it’s nice to know that if I need something last minute for an event or vacation, that cute and affordable options are just a 10 minute drive away.
Old Navy will now be offering a full range of plus sizes in all their stores!!! Even better, we’re getting cost equity because plus size items will no longer be priced higher!!!!!
I acknowledge that this is a small victory, relatively speaking. It’s not like plus size items regularly sell out on their website, while they charge a premium for bigger sizes (at least for women). According to this CNN article, they started selling plus sizes (16 and above) way back in 2004. As a shopper I can tell you that in the intervening years, sizes 20 and above have had little to no in store presence since then. And in 2018, they made this same announcement only to drop the ball yet again. The difference this time is that instead of testing the plus drop in just 75 of their over 1,00 store, the rollout will happen in every store simultaneously as part of a “Bodequality Initiative.” That’s really the only way to do it because if only one Old Navy in your state has plus sizes, are customers really supposed to drive hours out of the way to shop in store? Or visit all five Old Navys in their metro area until they find the one that actually stocks plus sizes? That’s totally unrealistic and another way that retailers set their plus lines up for failure. If the clothes are not in EVERY store, combined with a serious and sustained marketing campaign (pssst, you should be reminding people to shop plus in store come Christmastime, Old Navy!) then it simply will not work. Plus size consumers have been disappointed so long that if we go into one store and don’t find what we need, we very well may not bother to come back and look again.
I’m very excited but also braced for disappointment. I’m holding out hope that my skepticism will be proven wrong. I’ll be following up on this post in a few weeks with a walkthrough of my local Old Navy so stay tuned!