Asos, Boohoo and Asda’s clothing arm George will be investigated by the competition watchdog to work out whether their green claims are misleading shoppers.
The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said retailers could face court action if their sustainability claims are found to be misleading.
Fashion collections, such as ‘Responsible edit’ from ASOS, Boohoo’s current ‘Ready for the Future’ range, and ‘George for Good’, will be scrutinised.
The watchdog will examine whether products have been included in eco-friendly collections that do not meet the criteria as well as cases where customers lack information about a product’s supply chain.
Investigators will also probe whether “the statements and language used by the businesses are too broad and vague, and may create the impression that clothing collections […] are more environmentally sustainable than they actually are.”
E-commerce retailer Asos acknowledged the announcement by the CMA and said it would”cooperate with the investigation and is committed to playing its part in making fashion more sustainable, including providing clear and accurate information about its products.”
“Asos does not propose to comment on the investigation further at this stage,” the statement added.
“People who want to ‘buy green’ should be able to do so confident that they aren’t being misled,” Sarah Cardell, interim chief executive of the CMA, said.
She added: “We’ll be scrutinising green claims from ASOS, Boohoo and George at Asda to see if they stack up. Should we find these companies are using misleading eco claims, we won’t hesitate to take enforcement action – through the courts if necessary.”
The CMA said it could potentially secure undertakings from the companies to change the way they operate, taking retailers to court, or close the case without further action.
An Asda spokesperson said: “We know how important it is that our customers can trust the claims we make about our products, which is why we ensure the statements we make can be supported by industry accreditations.
“We are ready and willing to answer any questions the CMA have about our George for Good range and welcome further work by the CMA to ensure the sustainability claims made by the fashion industry as a whole are robust and clear.”
Boohoo also said in a statement that it would “continue to work collaboratively with the CMA and is committed to providing its customers with accurate information on the products they buy.”