Is ASOS Fast Fashion? Brand Analysis + Alternatives

Asos is one of the biggest clothing retailers on the planet. The website receives over 70 million monthly hits and generated almost £4 billion in revenue during 2021.

Naturally, this raises some issues.

There’s almost no way a brand can be this big without having a negative impact on the plant and people involved in its supply chain.

In this article, we will look at whether or not Asos is a fast fashion brand, answering all your questions. I’ll also show you some ethical alternatives to Asos that you can switch to.

Let’s jump right in.

Is Asos Fast Fashion?

If you’re asking this question, you already know the answer.

Yes — Asos is a fast fashion brand.

Asos create affordable clothing to fit nearly every fashion need you have. Need a new dress for a work party? Asos will have one. Need a new winter coat? Asos will have hundreds of options.

There’s no doubt that it’s convenient. But this business model comes at a cost. The clothing industry’s emissions are on track to rise by 49% by 2030, and brands like Asos are major contributors to this.

In the following sections, we’ll break down exactly what Asos is doing that lets us make this claim.

What Materials Does Asos Use?

There’s a glimmer of hope — Asos mark some products as sustainable and responsible. However, a study on fast fashion brands by Changing Markets found that these products typically include a higher percentage of fossil-fuel-based synthetic materials — not a great start.

They also have an extremely low bar for what counts as ‘responsible’. For example, Asos does incorporate Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) approved cotton in some garments. However, items are marked as responsible even if there’s only a small percentage of BCI cotton, e.g., a lining or trim of an item.

The same report from Changing Markets also found that the average Asos item of clothing has 63% synthetic materials, and 77% of that is polyester — a material that relies on fossil fuels for its production.

When Asos released their ‘Responsible’ line, it also came out that they removed independent brands from this section in favor of Asos’ own brand items.

Is Asos Carbon Neutral?

Asos has a 2030 target to achieve Net Zero carbon emissions.

They’ve also included KPIs so everyone can see what their targets are.

Asos Sustainable KPIs

This is clearly a positive step.

However, there’s also a lack of accountability — how are they achieving these goals? What progress have they made so far? Who have they hired, and what organizational changes are in place to ensure the transition to Net Zero will happen?

At this point, we’re inclined to say this is more greenwashing than a real step because the progress has not yet been made.

Does Asos Use Sweatshops?

Asos does not have high standards for treating workers in its supply chain.

ASOS doesn’t have clear guidance in place for their factories. For example, there’s no mention that workers receive living wages or that the factories need to use safe products and dyes in their production processes.

Alongside Asos’ Net Zero goals, we’d love to see them commit to higher standards of worker treatment before we consider calling them ethical.

Where are Asos’ Clothes Made?

Asos has published a list of factories they use. This is a great step towards transparency.

Most Asos clothing is made in China, Turkey, India, and Sri Lanka.

The downside is that there’s no information on how workers at these factories are paid, the types of contracts they’re on, and worker conditions.

The brand does say it has a supplier ethics code based on the principles of the International Labour Organisation, but there isn’t much more transparency than that.

Is Asos Cruelty-Free?

Asos has removed many animal-based products from its clothing lines, including mohair, fur, down, angora, or exotic animal skins. This initiative was started in 2019 and launched after a PETA investigation into brands using mohair and the ethical problems involved.

That said, we wouldn’t classify Asos as a cruelty-free retailer because they stock leather products and brands that are not vegan.

Does Asos Have a Clothing Recycling Program?

Asos has started to make progress here. They’ve partnered with DPD as part of their ReLove campaign focused on contributing to the circular economy.

When someone receives an Asos order, they can donate unwanted clothing simultaneously. This clothing is then sent to charities, including the Red Cross, Marie Curie, Scope, and The Children’s Society.

This is a great start, and we’d like to see Asos pushing more on this front.

Ecothes Opinion: How Ethical is Asos?

Is ASOS Fast Fashion?

We give them 1.5/5

Asos are making improvements and have big promises to be Net Zero by 2030. But, we’ll need to see more progress before we can up their rating. As it stands, Asos is still very much a fast fashion brand that’s contributing to fashion waste and emissions.

Ethical Alternatives to Asos

1. Urbankissed

UrbanKissed sustainable alternatives to ASOS

Urbankissed is a curated online store run by women with an excellent selection of sustainable fashion, footwear, beauty, and lifestyle products.

The platform stocks a great range of products, and it’s one of our go-to ethical alternatives to Asos.

If you want to learn more about the company and the fantastic range of brands they stock, you can check out our Q&A with the founder of Urbankissed, Sophie Brunner.

2. Made Trade

Made Trade sustainable alternatives to ASOS

Made Trade is an online marketplace showcasing the best sustainable and ethical clothing, homeware, and lifestyle goods worldwide.

Every product available must meet a minimum of two of Made Trade’s core values: being Fair Trade, ensuring ethical production, being women-owned, and using eco-friendly materials.

Plus, Made Trade is a certified carbon-neutral company, which, as we’ve seen, is something that Asos is unlikely to be until 2030 at the earliest.

3. ourCommonplace

ourCommonplace alternative to Asos

ourCommonplace is an ethical marketplace like Asos that stocks a range of ethical, sustainable, cruelty-free, women and BIPOC-owned brands. All brands included are vetted to ensure they fit the marketplace criteria and have sustainability certifications to back up their claims.

You can find all types of clothing, footwear, and accessories in the store, so it’s an excellent alternative to Asos.

4. Wolf & Badger

Wolf & Badger

Wolf and Badger is an independent online platform that allows customers to browse clothing and accessories from a wide range of small independent brands. They have both womenswear and menswear, so it’s perfect no matter who you’re shopping for.

The platform is constantly finding new brands to include, ensuring there are enough product variations to compete with platforms like Asos but without the negative impact on the planet and people that large fast fashion brands like Asos or Cider have.

Related Posts: Is ASOS Fast Fashion?

If you enjoyed this brand analysis and want to discover if other brands are really fast fashion, we have a whole load of different brand ratings like Hollister, Madewell, Free People, Aerie, and Banana Republic.

Bethany
Bethany

Bethany Worthington BSc (Hons) (she/her) is the Sustainable Fashion Editor and Co-founder of Ecothes. She has a passion for the environment, and a long love of all things clothing, and combines those two interests with Ecothes. In her free time she loves dancing, hiking in the countryside, and laughing with friends.

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