Michael 84

What’s Going Wrong At ASOS? – Has ASOS Lost It’s Cool Factor?

Tuesday, 18th December, 2018

Has ASOS Lost It's Cool Factor?

ASOS made the mainstream news recently after it issued a profit warning, showing all the offline high street retailers who’ve been moaning for years about how online has an advantage that the web is not immune to having a bad time, but is there more to it than that? There could be, let me explain…

I love ASOS, and have been a customer for getting close to 10 years. For me, it was always the go to shop for clothing; T-shirts, sweatshirts, jumpers, trainers, jeans, everything. In the early days it stocked so many great brands which you couldn’t find in many places, and then developed it’s own in-house affordable brand, which is pretty decent.

I actually spent over £1,000 in a single year at ASOS at my peak. Over the last few years I’ve spent less and less, and in fact, with only a couple of orders last year, and this year nothing. What’s changed? My spending habits for one, but there’s quite a few things which I think ASOS are doing wrong, especially in the men’s department. I have still been buying clothing, certainly less, but not at ASOS.

Who Is Their Customer?

ASOS say, Our mission is to become the world’s number-one destination for fashion-loving 20-somethings. It’s been a little while since I was a 20-something, so you could say that I’m no longer their target customer, but I think there’s more to it than that.

If I want high end, I could go to Selfridges. If I want streetwear, I could go to END. If I want something from one of my favourite high street brands such as H&M or Mango, I could go there.

They have a vast array of different styles of clothing, and I don’t really know what I’d buy at ASOS anymore. Of course there is their own brand, which I think is good value for the money, along with it’s good quality.

Then there’s that bizarre menswear they’ve had on offer. That includes a men’s crop top, as well as other really odd items of clothing you wouldn’t call fashionable.

Brands & Product Line-Up Not As Strong

Back when I first started shopping as ASOS, they sold a lot of brands it was hard to get unless you lived in London. There were a couple of expensive high end brands, mixed with cool and edgy brands, and the high street favourites.

Now when I look at their ‘new in’ line-up, I’m met with Burton, New Look, River Island and even 11 Degrees and BoohooMan. While there’s nothing wrong with Burton and New Look, they’re not really cool and edgy.

Then you’ve got 11 Degrees, a brand from reality TV, and BoohooMan, a menswear own-brand born from a women’s brand and a rival company at that.

They do still have a few cool and fashionable brands such as Weekday and Nudie Jeans, as well as affordable high street fashion brands Bershka and Pull and Bear, along with bigger names such as Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger and PS By Paul Smith.

Poor Photography At ASOS

Poor Product Photography

In recent years, ASOS changed their product photography, and I’m not a fan. In photography there’s something called the rule of thirds. It basically means you split up your frame into a 3×3, so you have 9 squares. From there, you want your main subject to be slightly out of centre, which is supposed to look better.

That may work in most photography, but in product photography, I hate it. When I want to buy something online, I want to see as much as possible. When viewing categories you only see the thumbnail, so only have a certain amount of real estate for the product; If you’ve got a lot of blank space, it’s a bit of a waste.

At times it can be confusing to what is on sale. Sometimes they use a full length photo which has the top, bottoms and trainers in shot. What is this selling? You have to really pay attention to the text, which is pretty small, and the photo just isn’t obvious enough to what’s being sold.

Then there’s the cutting off of people’s body parts…Why do you want to cut guy’s heads off ASOS!? 😀 They have a photo with the model to the right, with lots of blank space on the left, but cut off his arm.

The product photography is incredibly varied, with some perfectly fine, some not bad, and others where you don’t get a good look at the product. There’s also no right-click save as feature any more, a nightmare for bloggers, making it laborious to feature any products on your blog.

Menswear Social Media Removed

ASOS used to have dedicated menswear social media channels for guys, updating them on the menswear at ASOS. I didn’t see anything for a while, wondered why, and then discovered they’d deleted them! I don’t remember there being a warning, it seems to have just gone overnight. This happened several months ago, and I couldn’t find an explanation why.

Now everything is posted under the main ASOS account; Probably annoying if you’re a lady to see men’s stuff, as well as it being annoying to see women’s fashion I have no interest in.

Speaking of the social media, they also keep putting up images of text-based funny quotes and memes including screenshots from Twitter which doesn’t look great. I’ve seen other brands do this and it appears to be a trend that some of the brands are doing to get engagement; Copying other brands has never been cool.

More Competition

There is of course, more competition. Boohoo started selling men’s clothing a while back, and there’s Zalando and Nelly MEN, which I’ve always described as the German and Swedish ASOS respectively.

All the traditional high street shops are online and all have a pretty good offering, including Next, John Lewis, River Island and Topman, there’s brands like H&M, Mango and Zara. For higher end there’s places like Flannels, luxury department stores like Harrods, Harvey Nichols and Selfridges, and if you’re in need of streetwear, END is the place to go.

Most of them offer sales and discounts, and good ones at that. You no longer have to wait for the sales, because many clothing retailers have several sales a year now, many with constant sales on selected products.

ASOS had 20% off everything on Black Friday…A nice offer, but not good enough these days I’m afraid.

With that said the competition has probably never been tougher, if people also spend less it means they’ll be more choosy as to where to part with their money.


I still like ASOS, it is one of the best online men’s clothing shops for affordable fashion. I would like to buy more there, but it doesn’t seem to have that cool factor it once had. Add to that lots of great competition, and less spending on clothes in general, and you end up with less ASOS orders. Hopefully they will improve things like the photography, and maybe the dedicated menswear social media channels will come back in the future.

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Michael Adams

About Michael

Michael Adams is the founder and editor of Michael 84, blogger and T-shirt designer from Newcastle, UK. Sharing men's fashion tips, style advice and lifestyle information for all guys.

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