Old Navy Wants Plus Size Customers To Be Happy Too, Offers Consumer Panels — But They Aren't Budging On Prices

Old Navy is offering a bit of a make good for plus-size shoppers. The retailer has been caught up in a storm of criticism as of late regarding its jeans and prices: It recently came out that Old Navy charges almost $15 more for its women's plus-size jeans. However, amid all the bad press and Internet uproar, the brand is now making some changes to its plus size policies — but it's all baby steps.

The controversy isn't a simple matter of scale pricing or "the bigger the jeans, the bigger the price." The company has noted that it charges more for the plus-size women's items, whereas customers do not incur a different price for bigger men's sizes, since it costs more to design and manufacture them with things like stretchier, curve-enhancing materials and waistbands. So the brand is, in effect, passing along the added costs to the customer. The company also employs a separate team of designers that work specifically on these products, which is a further expense. It sounds reasonable enough, but even so not everyone is convinced that this is a legit excuse. After all, brands like Modcloth have managed to sell even higher-quality plus-size items at the same price as their straight size counterparts for years.

In light of all this, Old Navy has not said that it will lower plus-size prices nor has it agreed to start selling plus-size clothes in all stores — but it has made some concessions for unhappy customers.

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Customers can now return plus pieces, which are purchased online, at brick and mortar Old Navy outposts as of December 5, as opposed to having to ship them back, as was previously the policy.

In addition, Old Navy is forming a customer panel that will meet four times a year to discuss plus-size fashion and to give product feedback. The panel will first assemble this January. So, ultimately, this is a start to looks to cater both sides of this situation.

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According to The Business of Fashion, Edie Kissko, a spokeswoman for Old Navy's parent company, Gap, noted that the retailer wants to do a better job of communicating with its customers regarding its offerings.

"We will do a better job communicating the value we provide to plus-size customers and begin forging a stronger relationship with customers," Kissko said. "Clothes are meant to be empowering, flattering and a way to express your personal style. Old Navy is proud of the clothes that we create for fashion-forward women of all sizes."

Renee Posey, the women who started the petition, is happy with the changes that Old Navy is making thus far.

"Your voices have made a major retailer stand up and take notice that the way they have been doing business with their plus-sized female customers is not OK and changes need to be made," she said.

It's not a perfect solution (note there was no mention of changing their plus size pricing policy), but hey, it's a start.

Images: Getty (2)