Athleta is expanding its inclusive sizing to 350 styles across its collection, Gap Inc. said Thursday. For Spring 2021, 70% of the activewear brand's collection will be available in sizes 1X-3X (or 18-26).
All 200 Athleta stores will feature size-inclusive mannequins and racks merchandised with garments XXS to 3X, and all 5,500 store associates will be trained in inclusive sizing, according to a company press release.
By March, the number of styles will exceed 500, with new ones added each season. The brand aims to offer extended sizes across all categories by the end of next year.
Along with the Old Navy discount brand, Athleta represents Gap Inc.'s best hope for growth, as its namesake and Banana Republic brands continue to falter.
The label operates in a booming category, spurred further by the pandemic's work-from-home ethos. Executives last year revealed a plot to double Athleta sales to $2 billion, which many analysts consider doable. Athleta has long embraced female empowerment and inclusivity, making its sizing efforts squarely on brand.
The brand's design team collaborated with active women of all body types to test each piece, "ensuring that the same design intent and fit holds across all sizes." That may help it avoid a tone that persists in marketing inclusive sizes, suggesting that women must change or hide their bodies.
In an analysis of new arrivals in this segment over the past three months, for example, retail market intelligence platform Edited found "flattering" used 22% more often and "slimming" used 19% more often to describe women's plus-size apparel than to describe straight sizes. The firm also found that many apparel brands featuring extended sizes have limited options and marketing that largely ignores them.
In its release Thursday, Gap Inc. employed the word "confident," a concept that runs throughout its branding.
"We don't make assumptions for personal preference when it comes to fit, color, pattern or trend," Jolene Danielson, director of technical design at Athleta, said in a statement. "Each piece is tailored and designed to look and perform the same, regardless of a woman's size, to provide her with choice based on style, first."