British fashion website Asos has deleted its entire sustainable clothing category in July, not coincidentally just before the British market authority CMA announced an investigation into its sustainability claims.
Three years ago, Asos proudly announced it would become a “one-stop shop” for “environmentally conscious” clothing. The online retailer launched the Responsible Edit category, in which it collected 3,700 items from different brands that met certain sustainability criteria. These were products with recycled fabrics or environmentally friendly materials, for example. Asos also added filters to the webshop to allow consumers to search for sustainable products or clothing made from recycled materials.
However, in mid-July, both the Responsible Edit category and the filters suddenly disappeared from the site, iNews reports. That turned out not to be a coincidence, because two weeks later the British market watchdog CMA reported that it was investigating several fashion companies about their sustainability claims. The CMA suspects that several fast-fashion retailers are making misleading claims, such as claiming that a product is recycled when it barely contains any recycled fibres, and that consumers are being misled in this way.
Asos admits it has proactively removed the sustainability category, anticipating the investigation into possible ‘greenwashing’. “We continue to work closely with the CMA as part of its investigation and remain committed to playing our part in making fashion more sustainable”, inews quoted a response by Asos.
Anyone searching for Responsible Edit now will land on a landing page about the fashion retailer’s “journey to sustainability”. Last month, for example, Asos launched a new collection called the Circular Design Collection. The collection is said to be designed according to circular principles to reduce waste, reuse and recycle more. Whether the CMA is happy with this remains to be seen.