ASOS has always been one of the more socially aware and consumer-friendly places to shop online. Their in-house model booking team has been key to the diversity in terms of race displayed in their product images on the website. Perhaps more significantly to the fashion industry in particular, they’ve also made the conscious decision to increase diversity in terms of body image.
In recent years, under the creative direction of John Mooney (formerly of Alexander McQueen), they’ve debuted multiple ranges like their wildly successful and acclaimed ASOS Curve, ASOS Plus & ASOS Tall lines, all created to offer the exact same clothes as everyone else. But special care is taken to the measurements of the garments, specifically designing them to fit people with various body shapes better.
ASOS has taken care to be aware of their consumers’ online shopping experience and make it more enjoyable, by making the images of their clothes – and the models wearing them – more realistic. While the vast majority of fashion and beauty companies are usually prepared to publish “perfect” images of models on their website, with completely smooth blemish-free skin, and unrealistically well-sculpted bottoms, plenty of young people have argued that being fed these kinds of images of beauty that are near-impossible to live up to 24/7 can eventually have a negative effect on one’s body image and mental health.
ASOS have taken on this criticism of the industry, and have decided to stop photoshopping “impurities” such as scars, acne and stretch marks, things that most normal people have in to some degree. Additionally, in conjunction with the aforementioned Plus/Curve/Tall lines, in late March their app was updated to now show the same item of clothing on multiple models by default. This helps to illustrate how the item will fit on different people, and makes it significantly easier for people to buy for their body type.
Not only do these steps towards more inclusivity contribute towards the company’s consumer-friendly brand identity, but it also appears to have helped increase their profits. We don’t know much about the costs included in creating the ASOS lines or rolling out the updates to the app, but we do know that in 2017, the year after ASOS introduced them, they posted a 33% increase in revenue, and a 145% increase annual profits, to £80 million before taxes.
ASOS is already seen by many to be a market leader in terms of the online fast-fashion industry, and despite some minor PR gaffes, the response to their diversity initiatives has been for the most part been overwhelmingly positive. Their healthy profits and positive social media perception gives us hope that other retailers will follow suit and heed consumer’s calls for less altered images and increased representation in their marketing materials, with more attention paid to consumers whose bodies don’t fit in the artificial ideal historically perpetuated by the media.