A Change.org petition against Old Navy has forced the retailer to come clean about its pricing practices. Old Navy shopper Renee Posey noticed that the prices on the retailer’s jean offerings for plus-sized women were significantly higher than for straight sizes. “I was fine paying the extra money as a plus-sized woman, because, you know, more fabric equals higher cost of manufacture,” she wrote, noting the $12-$15 difference between the two pairs. But once she realized that the men’s options were not priced in this manner, she began to suspect something else was at play.
“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.” Posey also says that while men’s straight and plus sizes are lumped together on the Old Navy website, there is a separate category for plus-sized women’s clothing. “I don’t understand why myself and women like me are being singled out and forced to pay more by Old Navy, when our male counterparts are not,” Posey wrote. Luckily for her, and her 23,000 plus supporters, Old Navy’s finally come forward to explain why women’s plus-sized denim options are so much more expensive.
The retailer says that due to the types of fabric it uses to make jeans for plus-sized women, it has no choice but to put a premium on those wares. “Old Navy is proud to offer styles and apparel designed specifically for the plus size customer,” the Gap-owned brand said in a statement. “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. This higher price point reflects the selection of unique fabrics and design elements.”
This may be true, but TIME points out that it only seems to be the denim that’s more expensive, not any of the other plus-sized options. Surely, “curve-enhancing and curve-flattering elements” should be added to blouses, sweaters and the like? After all, curves extend to your whole body — not just your bottom half. Sounds like there may be more to this story than Old Navy is letting on. Plus, it is quite curious that larger men — who have a different body shape than straight-sized men — would not have their own plus section on the website. The whole thing smells a little of sexism and a lot of sizeism, and the ghettoization of plus-sized women.