Asos is taking a dive into circularity with the launch of a 29-piece fashion collection.
The trend-forward fall collection that launched Monday spans men’s, women’s and unisex lines and is part of the British fast-fashion retailer’s commitment to circular principles.
Oversize styling, micro prints, fall neutrals and Nineties-inspired acid washes are indicative of appeal for Asos’ largely twentysomething consumer, whose awareness of fashion’s environmental impact is growing.
“We’ve been on an incredible journey in Asos over the past few years to discover how circular design can work in practice in an organization like Asos, and working closely with our suppliers to apply the circular design principles that we’ve set ourselves,” said Vanessa Spence, head of design at Asos, in a press statement announcing the collection. “What this collection shows is that you don’t need to make a choice between the circular economy and fashion, and that you can make sustainable products without compromising on design or on price.”
Before creating the collection, the retailer designed and launched a training program with the Centre of Sustainable Fashion, part of London College of Fashion.
Asos’ full design team — comprising 216 designers — completed the circular design training following its new set of principles. The eight circular design principles include zero-waste design, minimized waste, recycled input, durability, versatility, mono-material, disassembly and upcycle, and are aligned with the three foundations of the circular economy set forth by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.
In May, Asos became a participant in Make Fashion Circular, a cross-industry initiative launched by the nonprofit Ellen MacArthur Foundation in May 2017 to foster circularity. Around the time of the announcement, select Asos stores in the New York City area participated in a monthlong clothing recycling drop off.
Each style from the collection was designed to meet at least two of the following three principles of the circular economy: designing out waste and pollution; keeping products and materials in use, and regenerating natural systems.
While the brand did not include specific information on the design and manufacturing methods to minimize waste, for example, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation affirmed: “There is no single way to design a product or service that creates no waste and pollution or a business model that keeps products in use for years and years. The three principles of the circular economy do not dictate the methods by which they need to be achieved, instead, they leave the door open to countless strategies and innovations.”
WWD asked whether these circular principles will be scaled out across Asos’ entire assortment, to which a spokesperson said: “Asos has worked with the Centre of Sustainable Fashion and written a circular design guide book and training plan. Asos will deliver this training to the wider product development teams so everyone has the knowledge and tools to develop circular products.”
Although the retailer boasts an 85,000-strong product assortment across a mix of local and third-party brands plus its in-house labels, vendors will not be explicitly required to adopt these circular principles. The Asos spokesperson said the brand hopes to set a positive example for the industry to follow and affirmed that “all Asos brands: Collusion, Heart & Dagger, Edition, etc. will be working into circular design.”
Collusion is an inclusive experimental brand targeted to young people, while Heart & Dagger is a men’s contemporary line and Edition is occasionwear.
Asos plans to leverage its scale to expand the project across its value chain with hopes to share with the broader industry.