ASOS: Corporate Responsibility & Planning for Interview

This is working towards objective 2, 3 and 5.

I have a contact at ASOS HQ whom has agreed to meet me for an interview regarding the topic of their social and corporate responsibilities around the idea of body image in the fashion industry. The issues of social responsibilities, ethics, and corporate responsibilities can be seen in my previous blog post, Social and Ethical Responsibilities of the Magazine Industry which discussed these issues in context to the industry, whilst in context also to my own practice. I am currently in conversation with my contact at ASOS to arrange a convenient time for the interview to take place. I will confirm details of my contact once I have confirmed the appointment. I plan on taking a series of questions to ask, as well as asking how these issues affect the employees within the design and social media departments on a personal level as also discussed in the previous post noted above.

I was surprised to find so many different organisations and policies which ASOS have been working with to achieve their guidelines and ‘Model Welfare Policy’, which I think as an international fashion platform is an amazing achievement and step forward to addressing the issues noted.

Below I have listed Organisations and Policies surrounding ASOS, all of which support Positive Body Image, whilst promoting support and raising awareness of such issues surrounding the fashion industry. I hope to look further into these/discuss at interview:

  • B-EAT
  • EDAW
  • UK All Party Parliamentary Group on Body Image (APPG)
  • Government Equalities Unit
  • Equalities Ministers Advisory Group
  • ASOS Model Welfare Policy

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Image Source

Below shows the full article taken from the ASOS Corporate Responsibility site as seen above. I was again surprised as to how aware as a company they are of the way they could be perceived if they do not account for diversity and positive body image. I personally think guidelines and policies such as are are something which every fashion, and beauty retailer for that matter should and must have, in order to try to and alleviate some of the issues surrounding body image in the industry and encourage a variety of shapes of sizes. This would allow for an inclusive and accessible platform for a community of digital consumers.

From my pre-set objectives in relation to my working research topic, objective 5 is to produce a set of guidelines which could be proposed as a policy to run nationally or internationally within the beauty and fashion industries. I have bolded key points which I feel are particularly relevant to this, and my research topic, whilst also being good starting points for preparing for the interview with ASOS.

This is working towards objectives 2, 3 and 5.

We want to use our influence among young fashion-lovers in a responsible way, by promoting a healthy, positive body image to our customers. We do this by:

  • participating in government advisory panels to tackle body confidence issues
  • bringing in experts to train our employees on body image and health
  • ensuring our own Model Welfare policy and guidelines on digital manipulation are fully applied, to protect our models and our customers
  • enabling customers to post images of themselves wearing the clothes they have bought through our #AsSeenOnMe feature
  • publishing articles on diverse and inspirational young women in our ASOS magazine, focusing on their achievements not their looks
  • working with anti-bullying charity, The Diana Award, recognising that online channels and activities are having a huge impact in the area of bullying and self esteem
  • continuing to fund the charity, B-eat, which provides online support for young adults with eating disorders

HOW WE WORK WITH OUR MODELS

We use over 100 models employed through 21 modelling agencies. The models we work with reflect our dominant customer, that is, twenty-somethings who wear size 8 – 10 (women) and medium (men). Our Curve range is for women’s size 18-30, and we use agency ‘plus size’ models for this range. We have had challenges in finding agencies who supply ‘plus size’ models above a size 16 but we are beginning to make progress in this area.

OUR MODEL WELFARE POLICY

Our Model Welfare Policy states that we will:

  • not work with models who are under 16
  • provide free lunch and snacks to models
  • closely monitor our models and raise any concerns about their health with their agency
  • employ models who are a healthy weight and shape

DIGITAL MANIPULATION

Our internal guidelines on digital retouching dictate that we do not artificially adjust photographs of models to make them look thinner. When we retouch images, it is to ensure that the image looks more like the real product, so usually involves aligning the colour more closely with the real product.

The catwalk videos that we include alongside product descriptions on our website depict the models exactly as they are.

FASHION FOR A WIDE RANGE OF BODY SHAPES

Our garment technology team constantly work to improve the fit of our garments and to ensure that we can deliver the right fit, first time to every customer. We aim to make our fashion fit the customer, not the other way round. To serve our diverse customer base therefore, we offer fashion in over 30 different sizes, including clothing, footwear and jewellery.

  • our Petite range fits people of 5’3″ or less
  • our Curve range fits people of size 18-30
  • our Tall range fits people of 5’10”
  • our Maternity range fits people of size 6-20
  • our Wide Fit footwear range fits people show size 2 to 9

Our ASOS Curve range has been successful with strong sales, and has won several awards:

  • Reveal online award: Best plus size for ASOS Curve September 2015
  • Body Confidence Awards – Responsible Fashion (ASOS Curve)
  • Fabulous for Curves at the 2013 Fabulous High Street Fashion Awards
  • Best Online Retailer at the British Plus Size Fashion Awards in 2013
  • nominated for the Campaign for Body Image in the Body Confidence Awards 2012

EMPLOYEE TRAINING

We are raising awareness among our customer care employees about potential health problems related to body image. The eating disorders charity Beat has provided training on body image health to our customer care team leaders. This will help them to respond sensitively to questions we receive from customers about body image and eating disorders, and direct them to appropriate help where required.

ONLINE SUPPORT GROUPS

In the past 3 years ASOS joined forces with Beat to fund Online Support Groups, which offer a safe and supportive environment for discussion between those with an eating disorder, or between carers, families and friends. Support Groups were trialled in late 2012, and launched in February 2013 to coincide with EDAW – Eating Disorders Awareness Week. With the support of trained staff and Beat volunteers, online Support Groups offer an addition to the Beat Network face-to-face groups, as well as an alternative for people who may not be geographically close to a physical group. They also provide an anonymous space for people who may not feel comfortable meeting others.

Each group has a volunteer facilitator, who is trained by Beat, and a Beat staff member moderates the discussion as well as signposting users to other sources of help, if appropriate.

Find out how to join a Support Group

ENGAGING WITH GOVERNMENT

ASOS participated in the UK All Party Parliamentary Group on Body Image (APPG) in early 2012. The group’s objective was to uncover ways to promote a healthier body image in the wider community.

The conclusions of the group’s final report were critical of the roles of the media, advertising industry and cosmetic surgery. The report also suggested one recommendation for the fashion industry, to set up a roundtable to discuss body image issues. We met with the Government Equalities Unit to discuss how we can explore some of these issues further as an industry and as a result ASOS took part in the Equalities Ministers Advisory Group on Body Image

BODY CONFIDENCE

Body image dissatisfaction in the UK has never been higher, and a huge amount of young people struggle with the issue. ASOS does extensive work to harness its influence among young fashion-lovers to promote healthy body image.

ASOS and the Diana Award aim to work together to launch the #MySense ofSelf programme to equip young people with the tools to challenge social and cultural attitudes towards body image, and to provide a safe environment to discuss body image issues.

The Diana Award is scaling up its anti-bullying work into a full campaign that incorporates raising young people’s self-esteem and body confidence. We will use our reach across the UK and Ireland to provide a resource that addresses the issues.”

Source:
http://www.asosplc.com/corporate-responsibility/our-customers/positive-body-image.aspx, Last Accessed: 14th October 2016