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Asos asks more of its brands in the wake of fast fashion supply chain controversies

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Fashion retailer Asos is asking brands that sell via its website and manufacture in the UK to sign up to four “ambitious” new commitments this year. The new standards come amid recent controversies surrounding fast fashion retail supply chains, involving brands that previously sold on its platform. Asos wants to ensure greater clarity on how and where goods sold on its platform are made. Asos aims to complete its programme for third-party brands manufacturing in the UK this year before extending to international factories.

The online-only business says it will work with the brands it sells to help them achieve the four commitments by the end of this year. By doing so, its brand partners will bring themselves in line with Asos’ own standards for the manufacture of its in-house Asos Design label in the UK. Asos says that about 60% of the products it sold on its site in the last financial year were from third-party brands. 

This comes shortly after Asos was reported to have removed Boohoo Group products from its websites amid allegations that its clothes were being made by underpaid workers who were working in unsafe conditions in a Leicester garment factory during the Covid-19 lockdown. A local lockdown has been reimposed in Leicester because of the high level of coronavirus infection there, with many cases in the city’s garment factories. Boohoo has subsequently launched a review of its supply chain, while Quiz is also reviewing its supply chain in response to minimum wage allegations. 

Earlier this year, Zalando became the first retailer to make it compulsory for brands selling via its platform to measure how sustainable their businesses are. 

The four new commitments are: 

Sign the Transparency Pledge 

By signing the Transparency Pledge brands will disclose the UK manufacturing sites in their supply chains. Existing signatories of the pledge include Asos, H&M, Inditex, Next and Pentland Brands. 

Map UK garment supply chains

Asos is asking the brands that it sells to map and share information about all parts of their UK garment supply chain.

Identify supply chain risks

Brands supplying must identify risks in their supply chain and act to mitigate those risks.

Join Fast Forward

Brand should also join the Fast Forward auditing programme and tackle issues identified through the process. Asos will host a collaborative workshop with the Fast Forward audit organisation its members to support brand partners that sign up in the coming months. 

The new commitments go beyond Asos’ previously published five minimum requirements, launched in 2018. They include having an ethical trade policy implemented across their supply chain, having transparency of Tier 1 factories, having an Animal Welfare Policy where goods contain animal products, complying with relevant chemical regional regulation in Asos’ markets, and publishing a Modern Slavery Statement.

Nick Beighton, Asos chief executive, said: “When we launched our third-party brand engagement programme at the start of 2018 we set out five minimum requirements that we wanted the brands that we sold on site to sign up to by 2020. We’ve been working hard to support our brand partners to achieve this aim and with the target now in sight we want to be even more ambitious – and ask those brands that manufacture in the UK to bring their supply chains in line with our own, if they are not already.

“We believe the four commitments we have set out this week are critical enablers to improving sourcing standards across the UK. We hope that our brand partners will join us in striving to reach this goal, with the continued support of Asos, Fast Forward and other leading lights in UK manufacturing.”

Asos is listed as a Leading retailer in RXUK Top500 research, while Boohoo is Top100, Zalando is Top150 and Quiz is Top250. 

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