Exclusive Q&A: The Inside Scoop on Old Navy’s Bold Move to Redefine Size Inclusion

Jessie Dowd
Editorial Director
Jessie Dowd profile picture

Old Navy has become a brand known for breaking out of the box over the years — and now its latest bold move comes in the form of a paradigm shift for size inclusion at retail with the launch of BODEQUALITY. Intended to transform the shopping experience (both online and in-store) for women of all sizes, BODEQUALITY launched on Aug. 20 and with it offers every one of Old Navy’s women's styles, in every size (sizes 0-30 and XS-4X), with no price difference.

In this exclusive Q&A, Retail Leader checked in with Alison Partridge Stickney, head of women’s and maternity merchandising at Old Navy, to talk about the brand’s forward-thinking move to redefine size inclusion and fundamentally revolutionize the shopping experience.

Old Navy's Alison Partridge Stickney

Retail Leader (RL): What was the driving force behind Old Navy’s decision to launch BODEQUALITY?

Alison Partridge Stickney: Old Navy is a brand that believes in the democracy of style and fundamentally believes in size inclusion. We have always believed that all our customers should be able to participate in the same brand experience and have the same access to product, and have been working towards this launch for years.  

RL: What was the most impactful feedback that came from your shopper focus groups while developing this new approach to sizing?

Partridge Stickney: Customers not only want equal treatment for themselves — but also for their sisters, their daughters, their mothers and their friends. Size equality and price equality resonated not just with plus size women — but with all women.   

RL: While reinventing your fit process and size standards, what were some of the most unexpected learnings that came to light?

Partridge Stickney: In the fashion industry, it is typical for brands to work with one plus-size fit model, typically an hourglass shape, and scale their sizes up based on those proportions. We identified the importance of designing to real women’s bodies, so we commissioned and examined 3D digital scans of real plus-sized women to better understand variations in body shapes. We found that the dominant shape of women size 20 and above is actually more of an oval, diamond or triangle shape, not the hourglass shape that has been standardized by the industry. We also started fitting our clothes on both a size 6 and size 20 fit model side-by-side to ensure the best possible fit for all bodies.

RL: What were some of the challenges the brand has had to overcome in redefining size inclusion?

Partridge Stickney: One of the big challenges we encountered was reworking store layouts and fixtures to show the full breadth of size ranges. We want to make sure our customer is able to see and find her size in our stores.

RL: What role will elements like visual merchandising and signage/graphics play in communicating the transformed offering at brick-and-mortar stores as part of the new integrated approach?

Partridge Stickney: We want our customer to see herself represented in our stores. Old Navy stores now have mannequins in sizes 4, 12 and 18 to signal inclusivity to her the moment she walks in the door.

RL: How will Old Navy utilize its store associates to create a more inclusive shopping environment in-store as part of the new fully size-integrated experience?

Partridge Stickney: All of our field employees have gone through training to transform our customer's experience by creating an inclusive environment where every customer feels they belong. The intention of the training was to develop skills that would build leader and associate confidence, so they could create an inclusive and authentic shopping experience for everyone.

RL: What about e-commerce and social commerce: what are the key changes in the digital experience for shoppers?

Partridge Stickney: Our online shop will also offer a fully size-integrated shopping experience for women, offering all styles in all sizes (0-30). We are merging the Women’s and Women’s Plus collections from our navigation menu to provide one shopping destination for all women. In addition to featuring updated marketing imagery, all products will be photographed on models in size 4, 12 and 18, and shoppers can use a new size toggle feature to select their preferred default model display size.  

RL: Are there any plans to expand BODEQUALITY to men’s styles in the future?

Partridge Stickney: Our BODEQUALITY launch is for our women’s assortment; however, we currently offer extended sizes in our men’s and kids’ categories. The extended sizes for both categories are size-integrated and have price parity. In men’s, we currently offer sizes S-XXL in-stores and sizes XS-3X online. All styles are fully size-integrated and have price parity like our women’s collection. We’re excited to share that the full men’s assortment will extend to size 4X online next year.