MINDING BIGGER GAPS: Old Navy adds plus sizes.
I spent most of last week in New York attending an International Council of Shopping Centers conference. One of the most informative panels focused on trends retailers are embracing so they can keep growing sales. Panelist Dana Cohen, a retail stock analyst for Banc of America, said major clothing companies believe their core store concepts have reached a saturation point and are developing ways to meet new markets.
Gap Inc., for example, is responding to the changing needs of the American consumer by, as reported in an earlier column, developing a new brand targeted to women over 35, who may feel their belly buttons are best left covered up.
Last month, Old Navy, a division of Gap Inc., launched a plus-size line for women sizes 16 to 26. The Old Navy store at Chenal Commons (221-2275) is one of 60 stores in the country to carry the new line. The line is also available at the store’s website, www.oldnavy.com. The line seemed popular among the shoppers I saw during a recent weeknight visit, and as one who’s recently found herself digging for larger sizes on the clothing racks, it’s nice to know I have options.
According to a company press release, Old Navy Women’s Plus styles are designed to be both comfortable and flattering. For example, pants are longer in the back rise (seat) and the lower hip has more room. Each piece in the collection has been constructed with fabrics, including stretch fabrics, to keep the comfort without sacrificing the style.
Gone are the days of hiding a larger shape in a muumuu or tent dress. The plus-size offerings include dressy items like velvet pants. Larger shoppers can choose from fleece outerwear, jeans, graphic tees and shorts. The clothes are also affordable – every item is under $46. The company has intentionally mimicked the styles of its smaller clientele.
“Our plus-size customers have asked for more great fashion options and we’re excited to meet their needs with this new line,” said Jonathan Finn, director of Old Navy public relations, in the release.