Can Old Navy plot a new course and keep its inclusivity pledge?
Old Navy, last August, made a promise to women that it would offer all the items in its line in sizes 0 to 30 and XS to 4X and that it would not charge more for larger sizes.
The retailer’s pledge of inclusivity was laudable. The executional reality, however, is that Old Navy’s sales performance suffered as it wound up with too much inventory for extra small and large sizes and not enough for customers in between.
Old Navy’s BODEQUALITY initiative didn’t just mean that the chain would expand its size selection. It did away with separate spaces for petite and plus sizes and integrated all size items of the same merchandise together. Mannequins in stores were displayed to represent merchandise in sizes four, 12 and 18.
Alison Partridge Stickney, global VP women’s + maternity at Old Navy, at the time of the program’s launch, said, “We set out to understand what women of all sizes wanted from fashion and the shopping experience and were inspired to revolutionize every area of our business — from how we fit and design our products, to how we communicate to customers in stores and online — to ensure that all women feel welcome and represented. This launch is a transformative moment for our brand and the fashion industry.”
The program did transform Old Navy’s business in some ways, but clearly not for the better as a Wall Street Journal article points out. The chain’s sales fell off almost straight following the rollout and Old Navy CEO Nancy Green stepped down after fewer than two years on the job.
Gap Inc., the parent company of Old Navy, will report its latest quarter’s results on May 26. The retail chain operator last month lowered its expectations for the chain with a decline in revenues between the low to mid-teens. Margins are also expected to be impacted as the chain has had to increase promotions to generate traffic and move excess inventory.
Paul Lejuez, a Citi analyst, told the Journal that Old Navy’s BODEQUALITY initiative has failed to attract enough new customers to the chain’s store and site, nor are existing customers buying more merchandise.
Consumers may say they like Old Navy’s message of inclusivity, but that isn’t enough.
“If some of those sizes don’t sell, it doesn’t make sense to use up the floor space,” said Mr. Lejuez.
- Has Old Navy charted a course for all retail to follow on plus-sizes? – RetailWire
- Old Navy Democratizes the Shopping Experience for Women of All Sizes with BODEQUALITY – Gap Inc.
- Old Navy Made Clothing Sizes for Everyone. It Backfired. – The Wall Street Journal
- Are Old Navy’s issues more about demand than supply? – RetailWire
- Why hasn’t plus-sized apparel been an easy win for retail? – RetailWire
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What do you think has gone wrong with Old Navy’s BODEQUALITY program? Should the chain abandon ship or try to steer a new course for its inclusivity approach?