Old Navy will not keep plus size women’s clothing in a separate section

(CNN) – Old Navy will end its practice of separate plus size sections for women’s clothing in stores and online and begin offering all of its women’s clothing in sizes 0 to 30.

The move comes as online fashion brands such as Eloquii, Dia & Co., Elvi and Torrid succeed in targeting young shoppers looking for a more comprehensive clothing size range than that offered by retailers by the pass. Traditional retailers such as Target, Nike, and Nordstrom have also expanded their size options. Part of the reason is that Lane Bryant, a retailer specializing in plus size styles, has closed more than 200 stores in recent years, opening up a void in the market.

At Old Navy’s 1,200 stores, all of its women’s offerings from Friday will be presented together, along with new models across the store in sizes 4, 12 and 18. Signs will highlight the changes and changes. prices will be the same for all sizes.

Online, the Old Navy womens and plus size collections will be merged into a single navigation menu and Old Navy will use models in sizes 4, 12 and 18.

Old Navy, owned by Gap, has been offering plus size clothing 16 and up since 2004 and in 2018 introduced more specialty boutiques in 75 stores. A year later, the company began testing concept stores with all of its merchandise bundled together.

However, selling plus size clothing hasn’t always gone well for Old Navy. In 2014, the brand was criticized for charging higher prices for women’s plus size jeans than for petite jeans, but did not do the same for men’s jeans. A Change.org petition has gathered nearly 100,000 supporters to end the Old Navy’s “discriminatory pricing practices”.

Alison Partridge Stickney, head of women’s merchandising at Old Navy, said in an interview that the latest changes were the result of feedback from hundreds of customers who described a “dismal” and “excluded” experience of shopping in sections. back to retail stores to find their size. Old Navy held focus groups with women shopping for extended sizes and visited stores with customers.

“It’s a big change in the way we work,” she said. “We had a team that ran our female business and a team that ran our business more. So that meant merchandising, design, production.

To offer all of its women’s clothing, Old Navy has created a single team to manage the entire division.

The move makes financial sense for Old Navy, Stickney said, and “is one of the main pieces of the puzzle” in meeting the brand’s goal of reaching $ 10 billion in annual sales by 2023, against $ 7.5 billion in 2020.

Old Navy said searches for “more” on its websites increased 63% in the past year and pointed to data from NPD Group showing the market for plus size women’s clothing was 20.4% billion dollars in June.

“This is particularly lucrative for a retailer like Old Navy which has a wide range of consumers of all shapes and sizes,” said Neil Saunders, managing director of GlobalData Retail, in an email. “For Old Navy and other traditional players, I think they see an opportunity for growth in a part of the market that they don’t serve very well. “

The redesign comes with challenges, however.

Adding sizes increases manufacturing complexity and costs for retailers, Saunders said. More fabric is used when producing extended sizes and additional design and manufacturing expense may come into play in the process. Women’s clothing brand Loft, for example, launched into plus size clothing three years ago, but recently turned the tide “due to ongoing business challenges,” the company said in March.

To be able to keep prices low and the same for all sizes, retailers need to purchase significant volumes of clothing, said Elizabeth Shobert, director of marketing and digital strategy at fashion analysis firm StyleSage.

“It definitely helps to have a healthy business and a size to do the sizing correctly,” she said.

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