Old Navy to Scale Back Inclusive Sizing in Stores, Less Than a Year After Launch
On its May 26 earnings call, Gap Inc. announced its decision to scale back the groundbreaking accessibility of inclusive sizes launched by its Old Navy brand in August 2021, reports Glossy. It attributed the decision to a decrease in demand for larger sizes. Old Navy will continue to carry sizes 0-30 and XS-4X online, but dozens of stores will soon phase out the inclusive collection. The 2021 initiative, dubbed Bodequality, combined Old Navy’s separate plus line with its core product offering, offering the same styles at the same prices across its size range. Before Bodequality, the brand sold plus-size clothing online-only for more than a decade.
Gap Inc. confirmed that the inclusive sizing program is alive and well, and claims that customer demand and supply chain challenges are to blame for the pullback of its in-store availability. Specifically, Bodequality is being removed from 75 U.S. stores and 15 Canadian stores. However, the majority of Old Navy stores — over 90 percent — will still carry extended sizing.
Total Retail's Take: Following a much-celebrated launch, inventory management issues have unfortunately dampened Old Navy's Bodequailty movement. The company stated in a blog post that it hasn't seen the expected demand for extended size products in its stores. As such, Old Navy will be realigning its in-store inventory later this year to better meet demand. Gap Inc. CEO Sonia Syngal said that the size-inclusive initiative was "launched too broadly and too quickly" for consumer demand to keep pace.
"We overplanned larger sizes with customer demand underpacing supply, leading to excessive inventory across stores” that caused a dip in profits for the retailer, Syngal noted.
Another possible factor in the downfall of Old Navy's extended offerings is ineffective marketing. It seems that the brand may have failed to create consumer awareness among plus-size shoppers, who traditionally didn't shop in Old Navy stores due to limited sizing. Nadia Boujarwah, founder of women's plus-size e-tailer Dia & Co, told Glossy in March that for retailers newly focusing on inclusive sizing, effectively acquiring shoppers they once ignored is “a high hurdle to overcome. Customers in our sizes are extraordinarily ad-blind to brands that are speaking to them for the first time,” said Boujarwah. “They intuitively believe it’s not for them."
It seems that for traditional retailers expanding into the plus-size market, it involves a gradual process of testing and learning, along with significant promotion of the new initiative, before success can be expected.
Kristina Stidham is the digital content director at Total Retail and sister brands Women in Retail Leadership Circle and Women Leading Travel & Hospitality at NAPCO Media. She is passionate about digital media and handles video, podcast and virtual event production for all brands. You can often find her at WIRLC, TR, WLT&H or industry events with her camera and podcasting equipment—or at home on Zoom—recording interviews with thought leaders and business executives.
Kristina holds a B.A. in Media Studies and Production from the Temple University Klein College of Media and Communication in Philadelphia. Go Owls! When she's not in the office, she loves to go on long walks, sing around the house, hangout with her family and two pet guinea pigs, and travel to new places.