DATA

THE PROS:

The brand is a member of Better Cotton Initiative and has set a target for 50% of its own-label cotton clothing to be manufactured from BCI sources by 2020. The brand reports its AW16 collections will contain 40% Better Cotton, including Cotton made in Africa (CmiA).

The brand dedicates part of its website, The Eco Edit, to selling what ASOS refers to as sustainable fashion and beauty goods. Items sold in the Eco Edit satisfy the principles of at least one of the following criteria: building communities, developing fair trade and alleviating poverty, preserving craftsmanship and artisanal skills, addressing climate change challenges, preserving natural resources, removing waste, advancing animal welfare.

In December 2013, The Guardian reported that ASOS had been verified as the first online retailer to be carbon neutral. The brand has carbon offsetting programs in Kenya, China, and India.  

THE CONS:

In April 2015, VICE reported that numerous former workers and unions compared the ASOS warehouse to a modern-day sweatshop. “The employees told VICE News they are exhausted by the demands of a bullying targets regime and a “flex” system, in which shifts are worked according to demand. Staff are told to work with just two hours’ notice and to go home when they are not needed.”

The brand does not publicly disclose a complete list of the countries in which its suppliers are located or supplier names and addresses.

The Fashion Transparency Index gave ASOS an overall score of 43%. This rating means that ASOS seems to be making some efforts to manage and improve its supply chains but make little supply chain information publicly available. The Index states that companies with similar scores to ASOS still have a long way to go towards supply chain transparency.

/ ASOS, originally known as As Seen On Screen, operates exclusively online.

/ ASOS reports that its business strategy includes aiming for a faster supply chain so it can deliver the right fashion, at the right price at the right time.

/ In 2015 annual report, ASOS reported an annual revenue of £1,150.8 million.

/ ASOS stocks more than 80,000 products, adding 3,000+ new lines every week. ASOS works with 24 million garments every year.

/ An estimated 79,000 workers operate throughout ASOS’s supply chain. In 2015, the company employed 2,038 people, including 1,798 full-time and 240 part-time employees.

/ The brand currently has 182 suppliers, who between them use 503 factories across 30 countries.

/ ASOS manufactures over 85% of their products in China, Eastern Europe, India, Turkey and UK.

/ The company does not share a full list of their or suppliers. SOKO, the Kenyan clothing workshop which provides fair and safe employment and training for some of the country’s poorest communities, is the only supplier mentioned. ASOS invests in SOKO’s management development and supervisor training.

ASOS’ Ethical Trade team conduct regular supplier risk assessments and aim to visit all 503 factories regularly to assess how they are performing against its standards, monitor labour practices and provide support where required. We don’t have any information on how frequently audits occur.

/ The Fashion Transparency Index gave ASOS an overall score of 43%. This rating means that ASOS seems to be making some efforts to manage and improve its supply chains but make little supply chain information publicly available. The Index states that companies with similar scores to ASOS still have a long way to go towards supply chain transparency.

ASOS reports on its corporate responsibility progress and practices annually. In 2016 the brand also reported its progress to the United Nations regarding its commitment to the United Nations Global Compact.

 

/ In its 2014 Annual Report, ASOS reported that it was working with suppliers to ensure that by 2016 no factories in the brand’s supply chain failed to meet ASOS’ health and safety standards when inspected by local auditors. We don’t have any further information on whether or not the brand has achieved this goal.

/ ASOS has been a member of the Ethical Trade Initiative (ETI), an alliance of companies, trade unions, and NGOs that promote workers’ rights, since 2009. We don’t have any information on the work ASOS is doing with the ETI.

/ ASOS is one of 17 brands participating in ACT: ‘Action, Collaboration and Transformation’, an initiative between international brands, manufacturers and trade unions to address the issue of living wages in the textile and garment supply chain.

/ In April 2015, VICE reported that numerous former workers and unions compared the ASOS warehouse to a modern-day sweatshop. “The employees told VICE News they are exhausted by the demands of a bullying targets regime and a “flex” system, in which shifts are worked according to demand. Staff are told to work with just two hours’ notice and to go home when they are not needed.”

/ In 2015 ASOS set up a cross-functional group to address the requirements of the Modern Slavery Act 2015. The group’s remit is to ensure that all areas of the business understand modern slavery risks, to undertake modern slavery due diligence and to develop processes and policies to mitigate these risks

The brand is a member of Better Cotton Initiative and has set a target for 50% of its own-label cotton clothing to be manufactured from BCI sources by 2020. The brand reports its AW16 collections will contain 40% Better Cotton, including Cotton made in Africa (CmiA).

The brand dedicates part of its website, The Eco Edit, to selling what ASOS refers to as sustainable fashion and beauty goods. Items sold in the Eco Edit satisfy the principles of at least one of the following criteria: building communities, developing fair trade and alleviating poverty, preserving craftsmanship and artisanal skills, addressing climate change challenges, preserving natural resources, removing waste, advancing animal welfare.

/ The brand uses the Social Clothing Action Plan footprint tool to enable the sourcing, buying and design teams to measure the environmental impact of the materials they use and replace them with more sustainable alternatives.

The brand is a part of carbon offsetting programs in Kenya, China, and India.

The brand is working towards having its clothing supply chain free of viscose fibre sourced from ancient or endangered forests by 2020, and supports Canopy.

 

/ ASOS plans to double its Eco-Edit product offering by 2020.

/ ASOS reports that it is mapping its supply chain beyond tier 1. We don’t have any further information on how the brand is doing this.

The brand aims to achieve 50% of its own-label cotton clothing to be manufactured from Better Cotton sources by 2020.

/ The brand is working towards having its clothing supply chain free of viscose fibre sourced from ancient or endangered forests by 2020. We have no further information on how the brand is working to achieve this.

/ ASOS reports that it will launch a number of worker initiatives designed to improve worker management dialogue, increase wages and wage transparency and advance understanding of health and safety practices.  We have no further information on this.

 

 

 

The ASOS Foundation matched a £5 donation per garment during its SS11 & AW11 collections which helped ASOS’ ethical manufacturing partner SOKO move to a new rural eco-factory in 2012 and grow SOKO employee numbers to 50.

/ ASOS’ corporate social responsibility programs are focused on three geographies, UK, India, and Kenya and include some of the following programs:

  • In the UK, 229 young people achieved a national qualification at the ASOS-funded Stitching Academy in Haringey, London of whom 54 moved on to secure employment or further training.
  • In Kenya, 38 people graduated from the brand’s Stitching Academy in Kenya with professional manufacturing skills that ASOS reports will enable them to get jobs in the industry or to establish small businesses.
  • In India the brand achieved its ‘Big Challenge’ fundraising target, raising £250,000 to build a new Udayan Care family home in Greater Noida for 12 abandoned or orphaned girls.

/ The brand has partnered with the British Paralympic Association to design formal and ceremony wear for the Great Britain Paralympics team for Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in September 2016.

/ We don’t have any information on how much the CEO, Nick Beighton, made in the last financial year.

/ On 6 June, 2016, Morningstar Online reported that thousands of workers at an ASOS distribution center in Yorkshire were being subjected to a range of abuse by their anti-union bosses, and that workers are subjected to “flexi” shifts where they can be told not to turn in for work, or to work extra hours without notice.

/ On 12 May, 2016 The Standard reported the brand was planning to install CCTV cameras at its distribution centre to monitor staff.

/ In September 2015, ASOS was awarded the Cosmopolitan Best Online Offering Award for 2015.

/ The brand’s Marketplace platform has 900 boutiques from 40 countries selling 50,000 items of vintage and boutique fashion.

In December 2013, The Guardian reported that ASOS had been verified as the first online retailer to be carbon neutral.  

/ The brand dedicates part of its website, The Eco Edit, to selling what ASOS refers to as sustainable fashion and beauty goods. Items sold in the Eco Edit satisfy the principles of at least one of the following criteria: building communities, developing fair trade and alleviating poverty, preserving craftsmanship and artisanal skills, addressing climate change challenges, preserving natural resources, removing waste, advancing animal welfare.

VOICES

SARAH BUTLER | THE GUARDIAN

“Online retailer Asos is backing the expansion of a training programme designed to rebuild skills in the UK clothing manufacturing industry amid hopes that retailers are “reshoring” more orders.”- 5/28/2014

 


FORMER ASOS WAREHOUSE EMPLOYEE | VICE NEWS

“You have got to do it; there is no excuse. They didn’t treat us like humans. I was under the impression that if you joined a union then you would get the sack. I was too scared.” – 4/2/2015

 

MARIA HOLLINS, RETAIL DIRECTOR | ASOS WEBSITE

Ethical trade is central to our sourcing strategy. We’re building strong, open relationships with our suppliers, encouraging transparency, demonstrating how good working conditions can benefit our suppliers’ business, and investing in projects to put worker/management dialogue centre stage. At the same time we’re taking a regular, critical look at our own business practice and making changes to ensure we are supporting and not hindering our suppliers as they strive to make improvements.”

NICK BEIGHTON, CEO | ASOS WEBSITE

I’m determined to promote a culture internally where it is 100% clear to everyone that we don’t chase margin at the expense of workers in our factories.