Asos returns to the House of Lords today to co-host a Modern Slavery Forum with Baroness Lola Young, co-chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Ethics and Sustainability in Fashion. Along with third party brands of the e-tailer, including River Island and New Look, and industry colleagues, such as M&S, the group will review the progress that has been made since last year, when the event outlined shared risks in the clothing sector.
A pledge will be signed by companies committed to taking active steps to eradicate modern slavery in their supply chains. In doing this, they will work collaboratively with others to develop tools and resources to raise awareness of risks; train employees about modern slavery risks within their businesses and supply chains; publish and continuously build on their Modern Slavery statements; and participate in an annual session to demonstrate changes that have been made. The aim is that brands watching from the sidelines will follow suit and join an arena which is putting competition aside for the sake of human rights.
In the last 12 months, Asos has, among other initiatives, co-delivered Modern Slavery workshops for third party brands in collaboration with Anti-Slavery International and launched an online training resource, produced in conjunction with the London College of Fashion, to help the labels it stocks meet modern slavery legislation requirements.
It has also used its platform to move the conversation forward within the sustainability sphere. Last year, Asos banned the sale of mohair, silk, cashmere and feathers across its entire platform, launched a sustainable fashion training programme and invited 90 of its best-selling brands to take part in an ethical trading conference to discuss purchasing practices, transparency and raw materials.
In the high-street arena, no other brand is making such efforts to show the myriad strands of ethics within the fashion industry. Yes, Asos has a long way to go to become a conscious platform, but it is taking responsibility to set an example for its 1,000-plus brands who all follow their own business commandments. While other labels release capsule collections claiming to be sustainable, Asos is bringing new conversations to the table. The test will be the strides it actually makes towards change.