ASOS is one of the most popular fashion retailers globally, known for its products and online platforms such as ASOS Marketplace.
Because of the brand magnitude, ASOS has a great responsibility. So, is ASOS ethical, socially friendly, and environmentally friendly? And is it fast fashion? Here’s what I found out from my research!
Is ASOS Ethical in 2023?
Although ASOS claims to be sustainable and operates under fashion integrity towards people and the planet, most reports show that ASOS is not ethical. This is the case because of the questionable production processes and labor policies that are detrimental to people, animals, and the environment in 2023. Overall, the retailer is rated “not good enough.”
Read on for more information about whether ASOS is ethical and how it operates and treats its employees, along with other useful facts!
Why Is ASOS Considered Unethical?
While ASOS says that it’s ethical, some ethical violations are contrary to the company’s claims. Let’s examine these violations below:
According to the Fashion Transparency Index, 2021, ASOS scored 47%.
This is because none of its supply chains have been certified by the labor standards that check labor rights, worker safety, and living wages.
Instead of providing all this information, ASOS only publishes a detailed list of suppliers at the final production stage and a few details about the second stage of production.
Additionally, ASOS also published the policies implemented to protect workers and suppliers during the COVID pandemic.
ASOS is also not transparent in providing information about whether daily wages are paid in its supply chain.
Therefore, while they might be open about supplier policies, audits, forced labor, freedom of association, and gender equality, it’s not guaranteed.
Environmental Impact and Sustainability
As of 2022, at least 34% of all fibers used by ASOS are from sustainable sources.
However, does this mean that ASOS is environmentally sustainable? Well, ASOS has taken some steps, but they are still not good enough. Here are some of them:
- To be sustainable, ASOS sells second-hand and vintage clothes on ASOS Marketplace to reduce carbon emissions that come from new clothes.
- The retailer launched the Responsible Edit clothing line in 2010, using a minimum of 50% recycled fibers. This was a welcome plan to ensure that the company used less water and exerted less waste during production.
However, there’s no proof that ASOS has any water reduction initiatives in its supply chain.
In addition, the Responsible Edit clothing line meant for lower environmental impact has not been beneficial.
Despite pledging to source 100 % of its cotton from exclusive sustainable sources by 2025, only 5,000 out of 40,000 products are from the Responsible Edit collection.
ASOS has also committed to becoming a net-zero emissions company by 2030. However, there’s no evidence of a clear set target that the retailer is working towards.
The company is also working on upgrading its packaging to become eco-friendly and clothes recyclable by 2027.
ASOS carbon emissions also need some work.
To reduce this, the company is working on more efficient transportation methods by using electric vans, renewable energy in the buildings, and efficient LED lights in the warehouses.
Animal Welfare Policy
ASOS has a formal animal welfare policy that it follows.
This policy is aligned with the Five Freedoms; therefore, the retailer doesn’t use fur, angora, exotic animal skin, or hair, and gets wool from non-mulesed sheep.
Additionally, in 2019, ASOS banned all mohair, feathers, cashmere, bone, horn, shell, and down silk from its platform.
Although ASOS has shown its commitment by banning some products and eliminating them from the site, it’s still not transparent about leather and its sources.
Is ASOS Fast Fashion?
ASOS is among the brands considered fast fashion. Fast fashion is inexpensive clothing items that are produced fast for the mass market as a response to the latest trends in the market.
Here are some of the factors that determine whether a brand is a fast fashion:
- If a brand releases a lot of new designs each week or daily to keep up with the local trends.
- Fashion brands have a super quick turnaround after a clothing item has been worn by a celebrity on a catwalk.
- If the clothes are manufactured in large factories in developing countries in Africa and Asia.
- Fashion brands that pay workers living wages.
- If the clothes are cheaply made and are of poor quality.
- If the clothing items have limited availability.
ASOS ticks most of these boxes because the brand name originally stood for AsSeenOnScreen, and had the tagline “Buy what you see on TV and film.”
Although this has since changed, the company gets its clothes from factories in other countries and pays its workers living wages.
During the start of the pandemic, ASOS stopped paying its employees in garment factories but resumed after external pressure.
In addition, the retailer keeps releasing trendy clothes which aren’t made from the best quality materials.
Based on the Fashion Transparency Index, ASOS has sunk lower, dropping from 55% in 2020 to 47% in 2021.
Is ASOS Socially Responsible?
As things change globally, companies are becoming more inclusive in terms of gender and race in their leadership.
While ASOS doesn’t discriminate against people based on race, religion, age, or gender identity, it doesn’t have minorities or people of color working in senior leadership positions.
Furthermore, ASOS has a huge gender pay gap in the UK offices. According to a report, women earn 55p for each £1 men make. Women’s median hourly pay is 44.85 lower than that of men.
Does ASOS Have Sweatshops?
In 2015, ASOS was one of the brands implicated in an investigation into unethical practices in the Turkish textile industry.
They were accused of using child labor and having sweatshop-like production lines.
In recent years, the retailer has had issues because of refusing to pay workers in its factories in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
This is a problem because it shows that ASOS doesn’t pay attention to the welfare of its employees.
However, ASOS has continued to review its operations to avoid the sweatshop crisis that engulfed its major competitor Boohoo in 2020.
In addition, ASOS has a modern slavery statement on its website that outlines the company policy in the factories and warehouses.
Although ASOS claims to be sustainable and operating under fashion integrity towards people and the planet, most reports show that ASOS is not ethical as of 2022.
This is the case because of the questionable production processes and labor policies that are detrimental to people, animals, and the environment. Overall, the retailer is rated “not good enough.”