I can still remember my first ever ASOS order. It was the summer of 2011, an entire glorious decade ago, and a few weeks before I finished university forever. As part of our course conclusion, we were invited to attend a boat party – the alcohol would be flowing, and it would be a last chance to get dressed up with the people we’d spent three years crying and downing Red Bulls with in the newsroom.
I found my dream dress on a website I’d learned of via one of my journalism lecturers, who still insisted on calling it by its original name – As Seen On Screen. A shopping website dedicated to replicating popular celebrity clothing, which we now know as ASOS. He’d mentioned it whilst I had been planning an Oscar fashion feature for our uni newspaper, and once I’d done some digging, I realised I would very quickly lose the lousy remnants of my student loan to its low-cost garms.
My dress was in the sale, coming in somewhere around the £40 mark. It was a nude chiffon A-line dress that came to my knees. It was backless and it was adorned in tiny diamantes. It was far cooler, more original and brilliant than anything I’d ever seen hanging on the rails of my local high street, and wearing it – paired with a bright red lipstick and sleek golden bob – made me feel exactly like the woman I’d always wanted to be. I felt like I had arrived into my existence.
Over the next few years my wardrobe slowly became a shrine to ASOS – and their own brand (which later became ASOS Design) was my personal poison of choice. I was lured in by their Premier Delivery offer which meant I’d get unlimited next day delivery, and panic-bought myself everything from slogan t-shirts and special occasion dresses to pinafores and neon jumpers. And, when I finally got my big break into the journalism industry – working as an online assistant at Look magazine – the new-in section became somewhere we collectively checked as regularly as Twitter and the Daily Mail’s sidebar of shame. ASOS’s iconic black and white plastic packages arrived on one of our desks every single day.
As my orders adapted to suit my changing lifestyle – midi dresses, supportive swimming costumes, mom-fit jeans, ASOS seemed to stick by me. It provided a constant stream of easy-to-access items that always made me feel like my best self. Until, it seems, it looked like they might dive into financial trouble.
In 2019 ASOS revealed that their profits had plummeted by 87%. It was put down to a shift in marketing choices and attempts to reduce product prices to make them more competitive, but they also confirmed there had been a notable slow down in younger customers shopping with them.
My last order was in November 2020 – a pair of Pokeball socks towards my brother’s Christmas present. And before that, in June 2020, a pair of black Vans trainers for my boyfriend.
The last thing I bought myself from ASOS was back in 2019, when I ordered a pink and red leopard printed winter coat. I’d been cautioned by the site the month before as part of their clamp down on customers who were returning too many items – it wasn’t because I was shooting fake outfits for Insta but because, well…nothing had looked how I’d expected it to. And, whilst I’ve been actively trying to reduce how much I spend and buy when it comes to clothes, in an attempt to be slightly greener, I’m still shocked to see I’m approaching the two-year anniversary of my last purchase.
I don’t know why I expected ASOS to grow with me, to stay by my side as a loyal shopping companion as I matured from a partying twenty-something to a mum who spends weekends drinking over-priced coffee in damp parks whilst wearing biscuit-smeared t-shirts. But I did.
A quick scroll through today’s new-in section has me spying a ‘slinky cowl neck bikini’, a ‘crop corset’ and ‘wide leg velour tracksuit bottoms in lilac’. None of which particularly entice me and my boringly cliched 31-year-old mum-of-two style choices.
So ASOS, it is officially time for us to part ways (I know you won’t miss me – stats show lockdown has seen your sales surge beyond your wildest dreams). It has been swell. The next generation (and let’s face it, probably the one after that too) don’t know how lucky they are to have you. Thank you for being a reliable fashion pal during an unreliable time in my life. You have been such a vital part in making me feel beautiful and brilliant, of making me feel capable and strong and confident. I will be forever grateful.