Old Navy’s Reason for Charging More for Plus-Size Clothing Doesn’t Add Up

The retailer makes larger women fork over more cash, but guys always pay the same price for a pair of jeans.

(Photo: Mike Mozart/Flickr)

Nov 14, 2014· 2 MIN READ
Culture and education editor Liz Dwyer has written about race, parenting, and social justice for several national publications. She was previously education editor at Good.

Not only do plus-size women have to deal with plenty of body shaming, they often have to pay more for clothing too. But if you’re a guy who wears a larger size, higher prices might not be in the cards—at least not if you shop at Old Navy. Now an online petition is asking Gap Inc., Old Navy’s parent company, to stop its seemingly discriminatory pricing practices.

Customer Renee Posey wrote on her Change.org petition that she was browsing on the Old Navy website and discovered that “that they were charging $12–$15 more for plus-sized women’s jeans—but not upcharging jeans for ‘big’ men.” Posey found that a women’s pair of the company’s Rockstar Super Skinny Jeans in a size 6 is $27, while the same jean in a size 26 is $40. Meanwhile, every waist size available of the men’s Slim-Fit Jean will set a shopper back $25.

“I was fine paying the extra money as a plus-sized woman, because, you know, more fabric equals higher cost of manufacture,” wrote Posey. “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.”

Posey also noticed that guys who are a larger size aren’t relegated to a separate section of Old Navy’s website. Meanwhile, the ladies are divided—there’s a “women’s” section and a “women’s plus” section.

Old Navy hasn’t addressed the separate sections of the site, but the company is defending its pricing policy.

“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,” wrote Gap Inc. spokeswoman Liz Nunan in a statement. “This higher price point reflects the selection of unique fabrics and design elements.”

Interestingly enough, Old Navy doesn’t charge more for petite-size clothing, although a pair of jeans for a 5-foot-tall, size 2 woman surely need to be designed so that they flatter a smaller body. It’s no wonder, then, that Old Navy’s claim that it doesn’t charge more for men’s clothing because it doesn’t need to spend extra time designing it hasn’t stopped the public from rallying behind the petition. Over 66,000 people have signed it—and it looks like the pressure on the company might be working.

On Friday Posey updated her petition page with an announcement that on Nov. 17 she will meet with Jodi Bricker, senior vice president of Old Navy product merchandising, and Jill Stanton, executive vice president of Old Navy product design and development.

“The conversation will focus on the direction we would like to see them go with their plus-sized design and marketing, as well as giving them an opportunity to provide transparency in regard to the wheres and whys of how they do business now,” wrote Posey.

Let’s hope that something will come out of that meeting that, as Posey puts it, “ends discriminatory pricing practices and offers products at a fair cost to ALL people of size, not just men.”