Why Old Navy charges more for women's plus-sized clothing – and why that might change

A petition to Gap Inc. asks the Old Navy brand to eliminate "sexism" and "sizeism" from its pricing.

PRNewsFoto/Old Navy/File

Should "plus-size" women pay more for their clothing? A petition to Old Navy answers, 'No.'

A change.org petition asks the clothing retail chain to stop charging more for plus-sized women's clothing than for regular-sized women's – and "big" sized men's clothing.

Renee Posey wrote the letter after noticing jeans on Old Navy's website cost $12-15 more in women's plus sizes, but not in men's "big" sizes.

Old Navy’s Rockstar Super Skinny Jeans cost $27 in a size 6. The same jeans in a size 26 cost $40. Alternatively, the men’s Slim-Fit Jean costs $25 – no matter the size.

"This overtly discriminatory pricing policy indicates sexism and sizeism on the part of Old Navy that is unfair to women of size and unacceptable to me as a consumer of Old Navy's products," the petition – which has reached 88,000 signatures – reads.

If the company is charging plus-sized women more to cover the cost of the fabric being used, Posey wondered, then why doesn't Old Navy charge large men more for their clothing that "regular-sized" men?  She detects a sexist pricing policy.

"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 wrote.

She further noted that while the Old Navy website separates out "Women's Plus" clothes into one section of the website, all the men's clothing sizes are kept together.

After a "canned" response from Gap Inc. – Old Navy's parent company – at 20,000 signatures, the petition gained national media attention, and started a conversation with a company representative.

In a posting on the petition website, Posey informed signees the Gap representative, Edie Kissko, told her the petition has prompted internal discussions in the company, including meetings with the design team and brand president.

"This has really made them think about how they have been approaching their female plus-sized customer, and although the words 'industry standard' were mentioned quite a bit, they are seeing the potential for this to turn them into a pioneer in their industry by truly focusing on what the plus-sized woman is looking for in clothing," Posey reported.

She said Ms. Kissko said it costs more to create women's plus sizes, and that there is a difference between "extended sizing" (making the same pattern bigger) and "plus sizing" (which requires a different pattern).

Posey said the company was also talking about getting plus sizes back in stores (instead of online-only), and creating a “plus-sized consumer panel” to provide direct feedback on the  plus-sized line, how they are presented on the website, the models that they use, the fit, the style, and the price.

Posey encouraged followers to keep the conversation going by using #OldNavyPlus to spread their ideas.

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