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ASOS asks partner brands to sign Transparency Pledge

Lauretta Roberts
07 August 2020

ASOS is asking UK-manufactured brands stocked on its platform to sign up to additional commitments to ensure their garments are ethically produced.

The young fashion giant is strengthening its third party brand engagement programme with four new commitments, which should be in place at the end of the year.

They are:

  1. Signing the Transparency Pledge, joining ASOS, H&M, Inditex, Next, Pentland Brands, and numerous others in regularly and publicly disclosing a list of manufacturing sites in their supply chain;
  2. Mapping and having visibility on all parts of their UK garment manufacturing supply chain, and providing evidence of visibility to ASOS;
  3. Identifying risks within their supply base and strategies to mitigate this risk and, if necessary, sharing this information with ASOS so it can support the partner with addressing these issues;
  4. Joining the Fast Forward auditing programme and committing to tackle any issues identified through this process.

The company said that implementing these four commitments with third party brands would bring them in-line with the measures it takes for its own label, ASOS Design.

Its move comes after lower-priced online rival Boohoo was embroiled in controversy over alleged mistreatment of staff at a Leicester factory, where its clothes were seen by an undercover reporter for The Times.

Boohoo said the clothes seen at the factory had been made elsewhere and sent, without its knowledge, to the site for repackaging. Its own investigation found no evidence of the allegations of underpayment but nonetheless it severed ties with the supplier, which outsourced the work, and has appointed Alison Levitt QC to undertake an independent investigation of its entire UK supply chain.

Unlike Boohoo, which produces around 40% of its clothing in the UK, ASOS produces relatively little of its own brand in the UK. But while Boohoo sells only its own clothing, some 60% of ASOS's sales come from third-party brands. It dropped Boohoo's brands from its line-up following the allegations while it awaited the results of the independent investigation, which are due to be published next month.

ASOS said it would support its brand partners in meeting the commitments by sharing its expertise and experience in this area. In September 2020, it will host a collaborative workshop together with the Fast Forward audit organisation and Fast Forward members, to support its brand partners in signing up to Fast Forward in the coming months.

CEO Nick Beighton 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 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.”

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