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05 Jul

How Ethical Is ASOS?

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British company ASOS is one of the world’s most popular online fashion destinations. But how ethical is ASOS? In this article, we dive into the brand’s “Not Good Enough” rating, which was published in May 2023 and may not reflect claims the brand has made since then. Our ratings analysts are constantly rerating the thousands of brands you can check on our directory.

The realities of fast fashion outweigh convenience

ASOS is a UK-based fast fashion mammoth: it sells over 850 different brands and also makes its own range of affordable clothing and accessories. But how ethical is the ASOS private range, and should you be looking elsewhere for your online shopping fix?

While the prospect of 70,000 cheap and cute fashion items delivered to your doorstep is exciting, the low price tags often belie the true cost of fast fashion: questionable labour policies and production processes that are detrimental to the environment. And while the brand claims its Fashion with Integrity strategy “drives [the brand] to be a company that cares for people, while working to reduce [its] impact on the planet”, we can’t help but wonder: is that really the case? Let’s take a look at the impact of ASOS on people, the planet, and animals and answer: how ethical is ASOS?

Environmental impact

We rated ASOS’s environmental impact “Not Good Enough”. The ASOS brand uses some lower-impact materials in its clothing, but there is no evidence it minimises textile waste when manufacturing its products. In addition, we found no evidence ASOS is taking actions to protect biodiversity in its supply chain.

In 2010, ASOS introduced a collection called the Responsible Edit—a selection of clothing, accessories, and beauty products marketed for a lower environmental impact. ASOS private label clothing comprises about a quarter of this collection with pieces made in conjunction with fair labour partners in Kenya, and some lower-impact fabrics like TENCEL™️. In 2022, ASOS pulled its Responsible Edit, “just weeks ahead of an investigation by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) looking into potential ‘greenwashing’ issues” reports Fashion Networks.

Responsible Edit or not, at the end of the day, ASOS follows an unsustainable fast fashion model with quickly changing trends and regular new styles, which can never be sustainable.

Labour conditions

ASOS’ labour rating is also “Not Good Enough”. Almost none of its supply chain is certified by labour standards which ensure worker health and safety or other labour rights, and it received a score of 51-60% in the latest Fashion Transparency Index (an improvement from its previous scores). ASOS has a limited policy to support diversity and inclusion in its direct operations and supply chain and during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, it disclosed some policies to protect workers in its supply chain from the virus.

But the most problematic issue, however, is that we found no evidence it ensures payment of a living wage in its supply chain when it can certainly afford it. In its 2023 Fashion with Integrity strategy ASOS claims that in 2023, it’ll start publishing “an annual human rights strategy and implementation report, focused on freedom of association, gender empowerment, wages, and modern slavery” and that it’ll share its progress “with Labour Behind the Label, part of the Clean Clothes Campaign, and existing critical friends, Anti-Slavery International and IndustriALL Global Union, for independent monitoring of our strategy and progress.” Big statements are great, but we look forward to seeing how ASOS reaches its targets. Paying workers a living wage is crucial for a more ethical and sustainable fashion industry.

Animal welfare

ASOS rates “Not Good Enough” for animal welfare, a downgrade from past ratings. ASOS a formal policy aligned with the Five Freedoms of animal welfare but few clear implementation mechanisms in place. It does not use angora, fur, down, exotic animal skin or hair, but it still uses leather, shearling, and wool (it has a policy to source wool from non-mulesed sheep but doesn’t provide any evidence to verify its claims). What’s more, we found no evidence ASOS traces any of these animal-derived materials to the first production stage.

Overall rating: Not Good Enough

So, how ethical and sustainable is ASOS? ASOS is rated “Not Good Enough” overall. For a company that “that cares for people, while working to reduce our impact on the planet”, ASOS still has a lot of work to do. The brand needs to implement measures to protect biodiversity in its supply chain, use less animal-derived materials, and most importantly, ensure its workers are paid a living wage.

Note that Good On You ratings consider hundreds of issues, and it is not possible to list every relevant issue in a summary of the brand’s performance. For more information, see our How We Rate page and our FAQs.

See the rating.

So, our take? If you’ve got an ASOS habit that just won’t give, try ASOS stocked brands that we rate highly, such as Baggu (“Good”) or People Tree (“Great”).

Good swaps

If you’re trying to break up with fast fashion, why not have a look at these “Good” and “Great” alternatives to ASOS.


Rated: Good
Someone on roof wearing clothes by Afends.

Born in Byron Bay, Australia, Afends is a more responsible brand leading the way in hemp fashion. Drawing inspiration from the environment, streetwear, and surf culture, Afends’ mission is to create more sustainable clothing through innovation, action, and positive change. As true hemp advocates, it purchased 100 acres of farmland called Sleepy Hollow to grow its own hemp crops and ignite the hemp revolution.

Find most of the range in sizes XS-XL.

See the rating.

Shop Afends.

MATE the Label

Rated: Good

MATE the Label creates clean essentials made with GOTS certified organic fabrics and lower-impact dyes. Its goal is to offer women everywhere a clean product that is just as beautiful as it is responsible. It is proudly female-founded and is predominately operated by women. This US brand also manufactures locally to reduce its carbon footprint.

Find the range in inclusive sizes XS-3XL.

See the rating.

Shop MATE the Label.

Plant Faced Clothing

Rated: Good

Streetwear without the sweatshops, that's the motto of this British 100% vegan and cruelty-free streetwear apparel brand that is all about promoting a new wave of consciousness that supports the non-harming or exploitation of any beings in fashion production.

Buy Plant Faced Clothing in sizes XS-2XL.

See the rating.

Shop Plant Faced Clothing.


Rated: Good

ABLE is a US-based clothing and accessories brand that works with communities all over the world to make a meaningful impact, producing slow fashion that pays a living wage to women who have faced extraordinary circumstances. It uses lower-impact materials, and reuses water and materials to minimise waste. With thoughtful design and a level of quality that guarantees its products for life, its pieces aren't just an investment for your wardrobe, they are an investment in women around the world.

Find the range in sizes 2XS-2XL.

See the rating.

Shop ABLE.

People Tree

Rated: Great

Conscious fashion pioneer People Tree uses lower-impact materials and addresses labour risks by adopting the Fairtrade International - Small Producers Organisations Code of Conduct.

Find most products in UK sizes 6-18.

See the rating.

Shop People Tree EU.

Yes Friends

Rated: Great

Yes Friends is a UK-based fashion brand that creates more affordable clothing for everyone. Yes Friends' first product, classic cut t-shirts, cost less than £4 to make and the brand only charges £7.99. Using large scale production and direct to consumer margins means Yes Friends can charge you an affordable price for its more responsible clothing.

Find the range inclusively sized in 2XS-4XL.

See the rating.

Shop Yes Friends.

Editor's note

Feature image via Unsplash, all other images via brands mentioned. Good On You publishes the world's most comprehensive ratings of fashion brands’ impact on people, the planet, and animals. Use the directory to search thousands of rated brands.

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