This spring, ASOS replaced its former “Eco Edit” —a small, curated page of more sustainable brand offerings— to what it’s now calling the “Responsible Edit.” The latter is a significantly larger collection of 3700 products ranging from clothing to accessories, and meet ASOS’s new sustainability standards. The range, now available, can all be searched for under the new “Responsible” filter option. While some see this as a big step forward for fast fashion, its critics are quick to point out the holes in this new offering. Is this another case of greenwashing or can it make a real difference?
According to a review of ASOS in 2017 by Good On You, this is not the first move the brand has made towards sustainability. The company is certified carbon neutral, an active member of the Ethical Trade Initiative that allows them to be monitored and audited for fair worker treatment, and, more recently, they have banned the use of fur in their own product line. Also according to the report, despite these tokens of sustainability, ASOS continues to fall short in making real efforts towards being a greener company. Perhaps we can agree that by nature fast fashion is simply not good for the planet. But despite this notion, perhaps there is still something to be said for the addition of the Responsible filter?
ASOS isn’t the only online retailer to employ this type of edit to their shopping experience. Another brand giving the sustainable filter a go is none other than Net-a-Porter, a hugely popular luxury eCommerce website and member of the Yoox Net-a-Porter partnership. They recently launched their own new vertical under the title of “Net Sustain,” a “platform for brands, products, and content driven by a desire to make fashion more sustainable.” These moves are telling that a shift in consumer attitudes is underway, and we’re sure more retailers will be right behind them.
In addition to obvious pitfalls (sustainable according to who?) there are some positive aspects to these types of filters. The “Responsible” filter gives customers an opportunity to shop with their politics in mind, and signals to consumers that they can make sustainable shopping choices.
With ASOS in the fast fashion realm and Net-a-Porter in luxury, there is no doubt that this will create an incentive, regardless of size, across the board from designers to consumers to start making better choices. It might not be perfect, but it’s certainly a step in the right direction.