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Old Navy CEO Says Inclusivity Is the Key to the Apparel Brand’s Growth, Now and Post Spinoff

October 22, 2019, 6:44 PM UTC

Old Navy CEO Sonia Syngal says the apparel brand’s North Star has been what she calls the “democracy of style,” or to offer affordable fashion to anyone regardless of gender, income, and body shape.

On that last front, the $8 billion brand is doubling down by introducing a new plus-size initiative, Syngal said on Tuesday at Fortune‘s Most Powerful Women summit in Washington, D.C.

In a pilot at 30 of its 1,150 or so stores, Old Navy, a unit of Gap Inc., will carry every women’s style it offers in sizes 00 to 4X, with all items going for the same price.

“They are so happy they are being treated like every other woman wants to be treated,” Syngal said of customers. The average women is a size 16, she said, and the plus customer is underserved. Rival retailers Target, J.C. Penney and Nordstrom have also increased their efforts to cater to the plus-size customer.

The move is one of many Syngal is making as she tries to get Old Navy, the second largest apparel brand in the U.S. behind only Nike, to the $10 billion threshold over the next several years.

And the push for that growth will continue after Old Navy is spun out of Gap Inc. sometime in 2020. Taking Old Navy out from under the Gap Inc. umbrella will make Syngal the 29th woman on the Fortune 500, assuming the list remains unchanged.

At the conference, Syngal joked that waiting for the Old Navy spin-off was like being “7 ½ months pregnant with a 10-pound baby and we’re ready to deliver.” Founded in 1994 as a discount option for Gap shoppers, Old Navy has outperformed its brand peers The Gap and Banana Republic for years.

And after the spin-off, Syngal wants San Francisco-based Old Navy to maintain the irreverent culture that has given the brand its strong personality. “Post spin, it’s going to be about how do we keep the maverick attitude the brand has,” she said.  

Syngal, a Silicon Valley veteran whose knack for logistics and engineering background helped make Old Navy unusually deft at rolling out popular new merchandise quickly, says the spinoff will give the brand the chance to move faster and forge its own path.

“There’s this opportunity to really think about what we want to be when we grow up,” she said.

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