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As a little young un', I lived in Camden Town and would drive past Greater London House – what I called the "Egyptian Cat Temple" near Mornington Crescent pretty much everyday.  It's the sort of place that would hold mystique for most kids with its art deco feline columns and imposing size.  Later, I thought a secret part of the government were in there.  Neo-fascists perhaps, plotting away at some evil plan.  Paranoid much?  Me?  Never‚Ķ

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Of course, now most fash-on people will know it as the ASOS building.  ASOS occupy only the 2nd and 4th floors but given the space, that's still quite an empire they've got going on there.  Today, they opened their doors to a stampede of UK and European bloggers armed with a DSLR, myself included so that we can poke and prod around their departments as well as getting an overview for what's coming up for A/W 12-3.  ASOS of course have quite a unique set-up in high street terms in that they house a large buying team (for all their multi-label offerings), a design team and they shoot everything in-house in their own studios, which makes it quite the workforce to behold in action.  

I loves me a good old fashioned school tour so I dutifully followed the head girls of ASOS (in this case, Sarah Wilkinson, head of womenswear design team and Stephanie O'Reilly from the PR team) to go exploring the depths of ASOS HQ.  

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Head of Womenswear Design Sarah Wilkinson wearing ASOS A/W 12

Whilst I had a rough idea of ASOS' size, you only understand the scale when you're confronted by rails upon rails of clothes, piles and piles of bags and row after row of people glued to their screens, pretending not to look at the gawking bloggers.  

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In the design room, we were guided through the process of formulating the trends for the season.  They were quick to emphasise the fact that the acquire a good amount of vintage clothing as research and reference points for the collection.  They plan on properly cataloguing their collection so that this vintage resource can go out on loan for shoots.  The emphasis on vintage perhaps detracted focus away from catwalk *ahem* "inspiration".  The truth is though ASOS have to start working on their seasons long before the shows come out.  For instance, the design team are currently working on S/S 13, thinking up seasonal stories, moods and vibes, using their research from travels, vintage buys and blogs.  As I walked around the design team, there was definitely a lot of blog lovin'.  When journos ask me about the influence of bloggers on trends, I never like to over-exaggerate but of course it's hard to tell how much blog-scrolling goes on in amongst design teams unless you see it for yourself.  There there.  Pat yourself on the back.  Your DIY studded denim cut-offs may well have influenced one of the ASOS A/W 12-3 "Hard Baroque" trend stories.  

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Design team checking out Facehunter

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Vintage jacket, a reference for one of ASOS A/W 12 trend stories Baroque's Phase II.  

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Replicated vintage embroidery on an ASOS sweatshirt with the embroidery's reverse side used.  

When shows do come along of course, that's when the stories are confirmed and tweaked.  Therefore, A/W 12-3 is a reflection of that.  Stories like Baroque, Nowhere Girl, Empire all blend catwalk, vintage updates and what the design team themselves are bringing from their own personal observations.  Their moodboards also deliberately avoid direct catwalk referencing, preferring editorials and atmospheric images to inspire the mood.  

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Then you get something a little out of the blue such as a "Superheroes" theme for the A/W 12 ASOS Revive collection.  Late 80s to early 90s memories of superhero films and directional music video collections informed the sequin and leather filled collection.  They showed us this sequin number (which reminds me of something that Poison Ivy might have worn‚Ķ) and all its accompanying development sketches.  

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Afterwards, we shuffled through to see the studios and looked at the very recognisable casting of ASOS with all its tiers and categories determining what sort of face you'll see.  The more "high fashion" and established faces will be wearing the designers and then younger faces will be doing the high street stuff and ASOS own-brand looks.  Then there's the sexy category of girls, who do a great job of selling the body con dresses that aren't really up my street.  It's interesting to see how ASOS deal with so many different types of models under one umbrella, in the same way they do with their breadth of product.

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The marvel of ASOS is of course the way they update their site on a daily basis, which relies on their in-house studios shooting product pretty much every hour of the day.  It's a well-timed process which they have perfected.   Made-up and haired-up model goes in.  Photographer takes four shots (full-length, close-crop, back and detail).  Model comes out.  Goes into the ASOS catwalk room to do their walk.  Bam.  Product shots and mini video are done.  The shooting takes no more than ten minutes, if that.  There's no getting away from the factory feel of ASOS' ongoing photo and video shoots but it's also difficult not to be impressed by such efficiency.  

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I did ask whether there was an ASOS rulebook of posing.  It depends on the product of course but right now they're apparently well into "Cool Sexy", which isn't to be confused with sexy-sexy.  Nay.  "Cool Sexy" is that Rita ora, Rihanna vibe that is so hot right now for summer festival gear.  

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We then went back to snoop around the A/W 12 collection where there was a distinctly tomboyish feeling influenced by designers like J.W. Anderson, coursing through many of the pieces – particularly in the ASOS White collection and some of ASOS core.  Then it went in the opposite direction where bejewelled pieces a la Dolce & Gabanna in the 90s would pop up.  There's a lot of love for leather, particularly coloured leather pieces and printed leathers, thanks to the ASOS Black collection, which sees designer Markus Lupfer returning to his first love of leather with a capsule collection of ten pieces.  ASOS Revive, as I said focuses on superheroes and of course a pair of space-appropriate pair of leather trews with padded geometric shapes are par for course.  These are pretty immense.  ASOS Africa has delved into William Morris this season and is getting stronger and stronger with a lot of slubby sweatshirt pieces.  Lauren McCalmont, who designed the current ASOS Black S/S 12 collection is back with some winter warming foil printed scarves and gloves.  

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Lauren McCalmont for ASOS A/W 12

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Markus Lupfer for ASOS Black A/W 12

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ASOS Africa A/W 12

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ASOS Revive A/W 12 leather trousers

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ASOS White

For a lot of bloggers present, the temptation to enquire when this stuff would be going live on site was too much as it felt like we were all in there knocking up personal wants lists.  Thankfully unlike the norm of looking at product months and months in advance of release, we won't have too long to wait.  This stuff will begin to hit the site as early as August.  

Comments (51)

  1. Fascinating post. Thanks for sharing that experience and answering questions I didn’t even realise I had!

  2. Great post! I love ASOS, was great seeing behind the scenes of it all!

  3. Karissa says:

    What beautiful pieces, I love all the prints! Enjoyed the behind the scenes look at the design process. The model grouping is particularly interesting.
    http://theautumnissue.com

  4. Whohaaa, love this post. Love Asos! Thanks for sharing.
    Xo
    http://myscrambledstyle.blogspot.nl/

  5. Miss P x says:

    Really interesting! Nice to see behind the scenes of a fashion establishment :)
    xx
    http://misspx.blogspot.co.uk/

  6. Lia says:

    great behind the scenes. It’s always so interesting seeing the work and research that goes on behind a brand months and months before we even see the final product!
    x
    Glass of Fashion

  7. Kb says:

    Wow, it all sounds like a machine! I’m always interested to see how trends come together and it seems constant travel, reading blogs and being culturally aware is the only way. I can see myself trying to subconsciously guess which model belongs to which category now!

  8. Very cool behind the scenes blog post at ASOS. Fascinating to see how all the different departments work and that they are working on next Summers collection. Can’t wait for some of those pieces to go live!
    http://www.justabigail.com

  9. Hi!
    I’m from Brazil and i saw your blog on signature9 and i’ll be really glad and honor if you check my website and give your opinion! I’m on this blog thing for 3 years.
    Congrats for your blog btw, it’s awesome!
    XOXO
    tomaraquecaiaagora.com
    @blogTQCA
    facebook.com/tomaraquecaiaagora

  10. Amazing behind the scene pictures. xx
    louana-carron.blogspot.fr

  11. Bianca says:

    After seeing the new Asos look book (very well produced) pop up on a number of independent media outlets, I was a bit confused. Why publish free ad space for an e-tail conglomerate? They sell shares..
    But as always, you’ve showed me a different side to the argument. Asos is a business and we can all learn from their process and structure. It’s also interesting to see their emphasis on vintage when building product stories.

  12. Sapphire says:

    Good on ASOS for supporting so many emerging talents. Digging those ASOS Revive A/W 12 leather trousers. The futuristic shapes also double as built-in padding in cause you’re accident prone.

  13. Kady Heron says:

    Wow! Very stylish!
    Saving Thousands of People Hundreds of Dollars a month. Join the club today. Just click -> http://www.saversclub.us

  14. GASP. THANKS FOR SHARING

  15. Bella says:

    I’ve never shopped at ASOS, but I’ve been coveting the clothes that they sell for ages now. You’re so lucky that you got to explore their HQ!

  16. Daniela says:

    This was such a great read, Asos is my absolute favorite!!
    blog.snobswap.com

  17. susie_bubble says:

    It’s interesting with ASOS because as you pointed out, they don’t advertise and yet media outlets still want to cover them. That’s down to the appeal of the product. The lookbook for this season is impressive and the way they design, produce and market their clothes is quite different to how other high street brands do things. Profits don’t lie and they are killing it at the moment. Guess it’s difficult not to follow the herd of love.

  18. Théa says:

    Great article! So inspiring!
    Théa Unknown
    http://theaisunknown.blogspot.com/

  19. Laura says:

    I think we can all safely say that many blog’s are purely visual based. I love paying a visit to Style Bubble every now and then and just reading, losing myself in a very well written piece of writing. So thank you, for pleasing both my eyes and my mind.

  20. Cassandra says:

    Wow! All the amazing clothes!
    backtofive.blogspot.combacktofive.blogspot.combacktofive’s twitter
    xoxo backtofive

  21. Reemlook says:

    Love it! We are a fashion business in the UK who love all things fashion and beauty. Great to see a brilliant written blog!
    Our website: http://www.reemlook.co.uk

  22. Wow what a really interesting blog post, thank you so much for sharing. I don’t know how you contained yourself with so much amazing fashion surrounding you.
    The Native State: UK’s Newest Jewellery and Accessories e-boutique
    http://www.thenativestate.com

  23. grace says:

    I definitely see the appeal of ASOS and they are spot-on with design and trends but it all makes me a little sad that an online site and brand can be so big when there are so many amazing small brands that don’t get a chance. ASOS or other made in china brands sort of take over? I have seen a few look-a-like ALL knitwear designs from the ASOS brand. I just wish that these sort of trends wouldn’t take away from the incredible designs of smaller companies! :)

  24. Olive says:

    so in love in every single pieces on this post specially the accessories picture!

  25. SURFACE SCAN says:

    As usual so interesting, thanks Susie. And thank you ASOS for pumping out the hot shit.
    -A grateful American fashion consumer

  26. Lia says:

    I LOVE ASOS!

  27. Serdane says:

    So cool to show us how this fashion online brand does everything.
    http://www.younglington.wordpress.com

  28. I love, absolutely love to see what’s going on in the backstage! Great article!

  29. Morgan Erina says:

    That first dress, is, AMAZING. So beautiful.
    I just found your blog, and I’m so glad I did.
    You have an incredible way with words, and a wonderful personality!
    Thank you

  30. vvn says:

    I’m always more and more impressed by the asos team! But could someone please explain the difference between all the asos lines? Thanks!

  31. Darwin says:

    I super love ASOS, especially they ship for free to my country. Just ordered a dress and new shoes waiting to be delivered, makes me sooooo excited.

  32. vasilieva says:

    loved looking through these pictures, so inspiring and somehow i just cannot wait for fall now to be able to wear some of the leather bodies i’ve seen
    http://www.vasilievablog.com/
    x

  33. Ameba says:

    Beautiful pictures and clothes. Vintage jacket is the best :)

  34. Great pics! i loved all pieces!!
    xoxo,
    trendsection.blogspot.com

  35. Rob says:

    Ah Greater London House, or GLH as we called it.
    I worked there for Thomson Holidays before they moved to ….. Luton!
    Great pics!

  36. Iszy says:

    I love knowing how these companies work. I’ve been shopping with ASOS since 2003 and it’s great to have watched how far they’ve come. Great post!
    Iszy x
    is-zee.blospot.co.uk

  37. ttea says:

    I had no idea how much ASOS was like a factory. Generally the public only get to see that glitzy glamour side of the business, but there is definitely an industry to it.
    http://fashionananthropologicalpointofview.blogspot.ca/

  38. vanessa says:

    omg those silver motorcycle padded pants……

  39. Uhf, this got my teeth all wet and running. Love this, can never get enough of design, creativity and such inspiration. Thank you much.

  40. Andrea says:

    Go ASOS! It’s like a giant closet full of stylish stuff.

  41. Daul Be says:

    I love this post so much! Thank you for the wonderful preview!
    x
    http://daulbe.blogspot.com/

  42. Wow, ASOS really are a fashion forward bunch…..

  43. Stunning!
    x
    13thousand.blogspot.com

  44. Emily says:

    Wow, great post! Thank you for sharing Susie :-)

  45. Gorgeous. The necklace matched the dress. She looks glamorous on that style.

  46. Hey thank you for sharing and it is really a nice post.

  47. wonderful post ! i have been shopping at asos.com for last 5 years now and i am amazed the way they are growing.

    Sean

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