Selling More Sizes Left Old Navy With a Big Gap in the Middle: Report


  • Old Navy started selling clothes for women from sizes XS to 4X.
  • However, the move left customers frustrated and sales sliding as middle sizes sold out quickly.
  • Old Navy accounts for the bulk of owner Gap’s sales and profits, The WSJ reported.

Last year Old Navy decided to start selling clothes for women of all body types, but its good intentions have left many customers frustrated, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Many stores have been selling out of items in middle sizes far faster than those in very small or very large sizes, the newspaper said.

That has left the Gap-owned chain with two big problems: irritated customers who cannot find what they want in their size, and stock it must discount to sell.  

One Old Navy customer, 26-year-old speech pathologist Sydney Bassard, told The Journal: “I’m not necessarily the slimmest. Sometimes it’s hard to find clothes that aren’t tight. I have to look through a lot of sizes and then my size isn’t available.”

Another customer, Nicole Cueto, said she has struggled to find her size in recent months. “They mostly just have larger sizes and sell out of the small sizes,” she told The Journal. “It is super-frustrating.”

Nancy Green, the Old Navy CEO, told Vogue last year: “After intensive research where we spent time listening, learning, and walking in our customers’ shoes, it was clear there was an opportunity to do more to meet their needs and make sure that every woman saw herself in our brand.”

She said the BODEQUALITY initiative transformed its operations and reinforced the chain’s “belief in the democracy of style.”

The Gap-owned retailer accounts for far more of the company’s sales and profits than the Gap and Banana Republic chains.

According to The Journal, Don Howard of Alvanon, which works with brands and retailers on sizing and fit, the average American woman is now size 18, compared with size 14 just 5 years ago.

Old Navy reportedly relied on National Center for Health Statistics data to develop its inclusive sizing as well as its own research. The Center found women aged 20 and over weighed an average of 170.8 pounds as of 2016. 

The company scanned almost 400 women’s bodies to create digital avatars and build new fit blocks for sizes 20 to 28. 

Clothing brands have long tried to provide sizes to all body types, like Good American, Veronica Beard or Universal Standard. But other big names like Victoria Secret have also embraced size inclusivity by adding more ranges, The Journal reported.

Fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg told the newspaper’s Future of Everything festival on Wednesday: “If you are a size 2 and if you are a size 16, you do not use the same amount of fabric.”

She added: “You also don’t want to penalize the small people [who would be] paying more because the price has to be the same. It may be very controversial to bring that up. But I think it’s important.”



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