Does Old Navy Have A Plus-Sized Problem?

Old Navy isn’t getting many salutes from the estimated 100 million plus-sized women in America today.

The clothing retailer, owned by The Gap Inc., is under public scrutiny for what many consider to be unfair pricing practices.

Customer Renee Posey noticed while shopping on Old Navy’s website that the plus-sized jeans available for women cost between $12 to $15 more than other size selections.

At first, Posey thought the pricing hike was justifiable, thinking that bigger jeans mean more fabric which translates into more cost to manufacture. But when she went to the men’s section, she found that the sizes for larger men were priced the same as regular-sized jeans.

At that point, Posey started a petition on Change.org, which has gotten nearly 28,000 signatures so far. Posey included the reasons why she feels Old Navy is practicing unfair pricing when it comes to plus-sized women’s clothing.

“Every woman knows how hard it is to find a good pair of jeans: a pair that is the right fit at the right price. That’s why I was shocked when, during a recent visit to Old Navy’s website, I noticed that they were charging $12-$15 more for plus-sized womens jeans — but not upcharging jeans for ‘big’ men. If they are charging plus-sized women more to cover the cost of the fabric being used, then why aren’t they doing the same for men?”

“I was fine paying the extra money as a plus-sized woman, because, you know, more fabric equals higher cost of manufacture. However, selling jeans to larger-sized men at the same cost as they sell to smaller men not only negates the cost of manufacture argument, but indicates that Old Navy is participating in both sexism and sizeism, directed only at women.”

She points out that one style of jeans for women cost $27 when bought for a size 6, but $40 when bought in a size 26 — while a style of jeans for men cost $25, regardless of the size selected for purchase.

Her petition asks that Old Navy “stop charging plus-sized women more for clothing than you do straight-sized women and men and ‘big’ sized men.”

Old Navy has responded to the petition, claiming that the higher cost for women’s plus-sized jeans is valid.

“For women, styles are not just larger sizes of other women’s items, they are created by a team of designers who are experts in creating the most flattering and on-trend plus styles, which includes curve-enhancing and curve-flattering elements such as four-way stretch materials and contoured waistbands, which most men’s garments do not include,” the company said.

But Posey didn’t buy it, asking, “Don’t your regular women’s clothes include figure-enhancing elements? Or do you only charge extra for them when they’re for big women?”

And it isn’t just Posey who seems baffled by the price hike from one size to another. Christine Hunsicker, CEO of Gwynnie Bee, a monthly subscription service for plus-sized clothing described as a “Netflix for clothes,” also seems perplexed.

She does admit that larger clothes do tend to cost more because of the additional fabric, and that 60 to 70 percent of clothing prices are determined by the fabric. “So when you’re talking about needing more yardage, it’s going to be more expensive — but that’s true for men as well,” she told TODAY.com. But she was quick to bolster Posey’s point, saying that “it doesn’t actually make sense to me why men’s is not priced differently.”

“If there was transparency in pricing, you would have an even slope, starting at a size zero and incrementally pricing up a little bit more, if they wanted to truly pass on fabric costs,” she added. “Obviously, they don’t do that, which is a problem, because there’s a giant step between straight size and plus, and it feels very discriminatory.”

Old Navy isn’t the first retailer to come under fire recently for alienating the plus-sized portion of their customer base. Check out the shocking Walmart ad that the company kept online for six days before finally removing the offensive language by clicking here.

[Image via the Wall Street Journal]

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