A letter to…ASOS
Over the past few years, British company ASOS has become one of the world’s most popular online fashion destinations. They sell over 850 different brands and make their own range of affordable clothing and accessories. Then in 2010, ASOS introduced a collection called the ‘Eco Edit’ — a selection of clothing, accessories and beauty products marketed for its lower environmental impact.
We’re not convinced though. A perusal of their page ‘How Eco Edit Works’ has left us confused. According to ASOS a brand only has to meet one of criteria in their list to be eligible for the Eco Edit Platform.
The criteria are:
- Lower environmental impact materials and processes.
- Recycled/up-cycled materials.
- Sustainable cotton.
- Small-scale manufacturing in Africa.
- Made by artisans/craftspeople.
- Made under fair-trade principles.
- Natural ingredients.
- Parabens free.
- Organic ingredients
Does this therefore mean that a product that meets its paraben free criteria but does not meet Fairtrade standards could still be included on this list? Similarly, could an organisation fit the ‘small-scale manufacturing in Africa’ but have terrible working conditions for its staff?
We wrote to them to find out.
FLOR AND CESTA (25/05/2017)
As someone who until very recently did a good 80% of their clothes shopping on ASOS (trust me, the amount of points I have racked up on my ASOS A-LIST dashboard is something I’d rather not think about!!) it was a massive blow when I watched The True Cost on Netflix and realised I could no longer consciously shop at ASOS ( You have a ‘not good enough’ rating on Good On You). But then I heard about ASOS Eco Edit- Hallelujah- saved, I thought, from having to venture out to a brick and mortar boutique.
However, after a perusal of your webpage perusal of your page ‘How Eco Edit Works’ I am a little confused. According to details on the page a brand only has to meet one of criteria in their list to be eligible for the Eco Edit Platform.
Does this therefore mean that a product that meets its paraben free criteria but does not meet Fairtrade standards could still be included on this list? Similarly, could an organisation fit the ‘small-scale manufacturing in Africa’ but have terrible working conditions for its staff? How does the vetting process work?
I am hoping you will be able to allay my fears that my days of ASOS may be over.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Thanks for getting in touch with us here at ASOS.
I hope you're well and having a great day so far.
Our business model demands that we have a unique and versatile supplier base so that we can design and manufacture a wide range of products. ASOS sources garments and other goods from around the world.
Regardless of where we buy our goods, we want to ensure that our products are sourced from manufacturers who operate in a way that respects workers’ rights, maintains safe working conditions, upholds local employment laws and protects the environment. To read more on our Ethical Trade programme, standards, codes and our policy please click here http://bit.ly/2nfkbuw.
I hope this helps Hanna, in the meantime if there is anything else we can do for you please get back in touch with us and we'll be more than happy to help in anyway we can.
Have a great day.
Sara, ASOS Customer Care
FLOR & CESTA (27/05/2017)
Thanks so much for your response. I looked through the material on the link you provided and it's reassuring to see that ASOS seem to have a comprehensive programme for auditing ethical standards and sustainability throughout your supply chain.
However, I still found the Eco-edit platform confusing and potentially misleading. Can I assume that if a product that meets, let's say for example the 'Parabens free' criteria that it potentially could not meet the 'made under fairtrade principles' criteria? Could it not be considered more sustainable to have a more concise list of requirements, the most important ones, and have a selection of products that meet all these criteria? I believe this would leave much less room for confusion and ambiguity and help customers make a truly informed decision.
I don't mean to push this issue but at a time when issues like this are so very important and with ASOS being a major global retailer I think it's very important that these types of messages are clear so they can really inform the consumer and importantly drive up standards in the industry as a whole.
Thanks in advance and look forward to hearing your thoughts on this.
Thanks for getting in touch with us.
Your query has now been passed to one of our other teams in Customer Care who'll be able to help further. There's no need for you to respond to this email, we just wanted to let you know we're looking into your query and working on providing you with a resolution as soon as we can.
Osahon, ASOS Customer Care
Thank you for your patience whilst we looked into this for you. My name is Shana and I work on our Customer Experience team here at ASOS, we are a small dedicated team who deal with any escalated complaints and queries and I'll be able to help you today.
I have some further information, which I hope will answer your query for you. The Eco Edit criteria can be found here: http://bit.ly/2lZtXUX.
Eco Edit is a curated destination within the asos.com website where customers can buy pioneering sustainable fashion, beauty and jewellery goods. To be eligible to be on the Eco Edit platform, a product must contain at least ONE of the Eco Edit criteria listed. Each criteria also links to a glossary on what each criteria means. We are always looking for ways to improve when it comes to accessibility of our eco selection and so your comments are really helpful. If you have any further questions then please do let us know.
I hope this answers your query in full Hanna - If there is anything else I can do in the meantime, please do not hesitate to get back in touch, I am here to help.
Shana, ASOS Customer Care
FLOR & CESTA (05/06/2017)
Thank you for coming back to me.
I have to say, I am a little confused by your response; you appear to have just sent me through the link to the ASOS page that I referenced in both my original and second email to you? Therefore I wouldn't call this additional information or answering my query in full.
Your response does nothing to answer the matter at hand here or provide me with additional details as to where I can find the answer. I find the Eco-edit platform confusing and potentially misleading. As asked previously, can I assume that even if a product meets the 'Parabens free' criteria that it is possible that it may not meet the 'made under fairtrade principles' criteria? Again as mentioned in my previous email; could it not be considered more sustainable to have a more concise list of requirements, the most important ones, and have a selection of products that meet all these criteria? I believe this would leave much less room for confusion and ambiguity and help customers make a truly informed decision.
I would appreciate clarification on this otherwise I will be forced to consider ASOS an unethical consumer choice.
FLOR & CESTA 915/06/2017)
I am just following up on the email trail below- it would be great if someone could come back to me.
QUITE UNBELIEVABLE- ASOS SEEMS UNABLE TO ANSWER THE QUERY. NOW AWAITING FURTHER RESPONSE.