Old Navy, also known as the company responsible for 99% of my wardrobe, has debuted their new plus-size line at their web store. Some Boutiques are already open in their brick & morter stores and they have a helpful zip code finder to locate the nearest such outlet. Given that 2 of the 50 are near me, though, I'm guessing its still a bit limited.
But still, the online store is a start. They seem to be putting a lot of care into, too. Reading their sizing information, it seems that the "home base" for their plus-size clothes is a size 20. That means that they adjust down from a 20 to get a 16 and up from a 20 to get a 26. Ordinary women's clothing uses a size 8 as "home base" and can expand right out to a size 20. This means an Old Navy Women's Plus size 20 is a much better fit than an Old Navy Women's size 20. No reference on how this compares to other plus-size clothing lines, though. But it does mean that their plus-size clothes will be a lot roomier and more carefully fitted than they have been. Not to mention that they are now available for women right up to a size 26.
The attitude is what is really selling me, though. Here is a quote from an interview with one of the "fit models" from the line:
"I don't want to hide my curves. I like my curves!"
Damn good to hear! Also, the models used (which aren't that many, admitedly) are actually fat. I mean, they aren't pushing the envelope, just yet, and using size 26's, but the women are visably fat. They have bellies, they have chubby upper-arms, they have double chins. They aren't running from being identified with fat the way the big modeling agencies do when they hire the thinnest fat women possible with very tall women who barely fit into a size 12 and have nothing on their body that could be seen as fat. I know its a small step, and a lot of people are still excluded, but its a lot bigger step then I was expecting and the backing of Old Navy could seriously change the Plus-Size clothing market for the better. Simply put, Lane Bryant is going to have to deal with competition.
Maybe soon, we can get someone to expand their sizing past 32. (which is the upper limit at The Avenue, and I think the high-water mark for specialty retail stores) This is a step in that direction, that is certain.
Oh, and while looking for info on this topic, I discovered Girly Blog a great resource for plus-size clothing and related issues. Worth a look.