Old Navy is expanding.
The men’s and women’s apparel, accessories and footwear brand, part of Gap Inc., is launching its Bodequality initiative this Friday, giving new meaning to size inclusivity.
The initiative features a wider selection of women’s apparel sizes throughout the business, plus-size mannequins in every store, updated marketing materials that reflect a wider breadth of body types and sizes, and “Shrill” actress and Saturday Night Live cast member Aidy Bryant as the face of the campaign.
“This is our platform for how we will show up for women across retail from this point forward at Old Navy,” Alison Partridge Stickney, head of women’s and maternity merchandising at Old Navy, told WWD. “All women deserve to be included in the joy of shopping. And for too long, too many women have been excluded when it comes to shopping. All you have to do is go to your local mall, shop on your favorite site, and see that there is not the same choice for a woman who wears a size 16 or 18 or bigger. We saw an opportunity to change that, to see how we could take that feeling of exclusion and flip it to inclusion.”
Starting Aug. 20, all 1,200 Old Navy stores nationwide will carry women’s sizes 0 to 28, while oldnavy.com will carry sizes 0 to 30, or XS to 4X, all at the same price points. In addition, the “plus-size section” will be eliminated both in stores and online.
Instead, one tab, which reads “women’s and women’s plus” will be displayed on the website. The updated site includes a toggle feature, which allows shoppers to select the products they want to see in the size model they want to see the product in: size 4, 12 or 18. Returning shoppers will be shown products with the same size models they initially selected. They can also go back and change individual settings to see products in other sizes.
Similarly, stores will be converted into one women’s experience, rather than regular and plus size sections, said Emily Bibik, Bodequality customer lead.
“When you walk into the store, the same T-shirt that we have in extra small, we’ll have in 4X. The same pile [of clothes] that have a size 2 will have a size 26,” Bibik explained. “She can go and shop with her best friend. They can try on the same outfit, side-by-side with each other.”
In addition, marketing materials in stores and digitally will include models across the size spectrum with various body types. Plus-size mannequins will also be on display in every store.
“When a plus-size shopper is shopping and she sees that plus mannequin that’s kind of the signifier to her that we carry her size,” Bibik said. “That’s how we are communicating with her and letting her know that we are relaunching our women’s shopping experience. And that we are inviting women of all sizes to come and shop with us.”
While Old Navy has been carrying plus sizes since 2004, Partridge Stickney said sizes only ranged from zero to 18, or extra small to XXL in outlet sizing, before Bodequality. It wasn’t until 2018 that stores got plus sizes — and it was in only 75 Old Navy stores at that, physical locations with plus-size shops-in shops. Even online, only about 30 percent of the assortment was available in the plus tab, as compared with the women’s straight sizes section.
“We knew that there was an opportunity, especially given the marketplace,” Partridge Stickney said, regarding the roughly three-year mission that started when Sonia Syngal, chief executive officer of Gap, “asked me to figure out plus. It was a very vague task that she gave me.”
The assignment took her from Chicago to Miami to the Bay Area, talking to hundreds of women, administering body scans of various physiques, creating 3D avatars for better fit and using models in sizes 8 and 20. (In the past all clothing was fit on a size 8 model.)
“The reason we arrived here is that we were listening to the customer,” Partridge Stickney said. “When [plus-size women] are shopping with their friends they’ll look at accessories and pretend like that’s something they’re interested in, because they don’t want to have to deal with the fact that there’s no clothing for them in there.
“And that leads to another problem: it’s not fun,” she continued. “Shopping for a plus-size woman, honestly, often felt like a task. Not something that was joyful. Something that could actually bring sadness and a dismal feeling. And that’s what led to this transformation. Of, not a section, not a rack, not a tab on a site, but everything from this point forward that we design and have in our stores and on our site will be available in all sizes, all at the same price for women.”
Bodequality includes an “open letter to women everywhere,” which will be broadcast in emails, on the company website, billboards, including one in Times Square, and a variety of advertisements, such as the New York City subway and a full-page ad in Aug. 22’s New York Times, reinforcing the brand’s commitment to size inclusion.
Old Navy selected Bryant as the face of the campaign, someone Partridge Stickney describes as “an incredible voice in the body-positivity community. She just felt like a great manifestation of what we’re bringing to life.”
But aside from the cultural impact, Bodequality is most definitely a business opportunity. Revenues from roughly 19 percent of the entire U.S. women’s apparel market comes from plus-size shoppers, a market worth $113.8 billion, for the 12 months ending May 2021, according to The NPD Group. That is up 1 share point from the same time in 2020 — and it is still growing. Not only that, but a lack of options leaves plus-size shoppers with money to spend.
Meanwhile, Old Navy also continues to grow — with net sales growing 27 percent in the most recent quarter, compared to 2019’s pre-pandemic levels — thanks to strength in intimates, activewear and inclusive sizing. In addition, the brand has previously stated its target goal of $10 billion in revenues by 2023.
“And Bodequality is one of the fastest ways to getting to $10 billion,” Partridge Stickney said, adding that “there will be more opportunities in the future across our portfolio” to share findings from the plus-size market with sister brands Athleta and Gap.
Partridge Stickney is the first to admit, though, that Bodequality is not perfect. On launch, there will be no additional petite or tall sizes, for example.
“This is about progress, not perfection, at this point,” she said. “And what we want to do with this is to signal that we want to live up to our words of being inclusive by design. We see opportunity with petite, tall [categories]. We have an opportunity in men’s and kids. And those are all things we are looking into and working on. We’re really excited that Bodequality will be that kick off and start of really a revolution for the industry.
“We hope this isn’t just the beginning of something for us as a brand,” Partridge Stickney continued. “We hope this is the beginning of something for the industry. We believe inherently in the democracy of style. We believe in inclusion by design.”