Reuben Reuel’s back for a Second Season with Ashro!
This talented Afrocentric fashion designer has been making dresses since he was a teenager—for his sister, his mom and the women in his hometown Virginia church. Now he owns his own company and even has some big-time celebrities wearing his creations.
Are you ready to wear a Reuben Reuel design?
Join us for more about Reuben: how the women in his life inspired him, how God guided his steps—and of course, what he has to say about style and his newest designs.
What do we love about Reuben’s clothes?
Without a doubt, there is the gorgeous pattern, color and movement of them, but what comes through beyond that is the underlying respect and understanding he has for women. Ladies, he gets us: “Women want to feel special, beautiful. They want to be complimented and discover themselves.” This kind of empathy doesn’t happen by accident…”Three strong women inspired me to be a designer.”
“Three strong women inspired me to be a designer.”
Rueben’s FIRST customer? His Sister
As a young teenager, Reuben made his first dress in school. He started practicing with patterns from McCalls, making things for his sister, his first “guinea pig.” “When my sister found out I could make clothes, she was still a teenager and very excited.”
“OMG, MY BROTHER CAN MAKE CLOTHES!” She still likes to tell people, “I was his FIRST customer.”
Reuben’s best (and worst) client? His Mother
“Growing up, my mother always dressed up for church. She was used to getting compliments, and she could sew very well. Since she knew how things should be done—down to the smallest detail, she had high standards for everything I made. Everything needed to be done right.
“As I started making more and more custom clothes for the ladies at church, things got a little hectic sometimes. I always made my mom’s clothes last. She would say, ‘I understand that you’re a business man, but make sure my things are done.’
“The best thing I ever made for her was a yellow suit made with stretch sateen and beaded lace. It resembled a St. John’s knit suit. I will never forget the joy she had wearing my things. That made me very proud.”
Reuben’s Practical Style Icon? His Grandmother
“My grandmother was able to add just the right accessory or twist to make her style all her own. She was very frugal and mixed high end clothing with thrift store finds. I feel that style gets more creative when shopping on a budget. I design with this in mind. We all have a limit and a budget. I have set out to reach a broader audience with my clothes and make women happy.”
God’s Timing and Provision (the opportunities and people He provided)
“I was lucky. My high school actually had a fashion program. I don’t question God’s timing. Shortly after I graduated, it ended! That program totally changed my path in life. From there I went to Norfolk State University and ended up at the Art Institute of NYC.” Reuben was also “lucky” to grow up with strong women around him—and in a church full of walking designing opportunities. “I learned a lot about designing from those amazing women.”
Reuben’s Leap of Faith
So what did Reuben do?
He took a job working for someone else. (LADIES, this isn’t a fairytale. It’s a real story. Haven’t we all denied our callings at one time or another?)
Reuben took the job working for someone else…
“It lasted for 2 weeks. It wasn’t for me. I was frustrated. Every day before I arrived to work, I cried.” The prompting to strike out on his own wouldn’t let up. “I felt called to create beauty in the world. I knew how the woman I was designing for wanted to look and feel, and I wanted to make it happen.”
So what did Reuben do then?
He quit and opened an Etsy store with his own designs: 1 dress in 4 prints and 2 shirts in 2 patterns. It was scary, and it was a lot of hard work…but he survived and now he THRIVES. He’s doing what he loves and making women feel as beautiful on the outside as they are on the inside. LUCKY US!
Now let’s talk about his clothes!
“Fabric inspires me—especially cotton. I try to incorporate structure into my designs so that they’re almost sculptural.
How does Reuben achieve this sculptural look? He loves creating dramatic silhouettes that stand out: style details like ruffles and peplums, but then he goes one step further with “horsehair” hems. Reinforced hems add even more structure. They can make skirts fuller and collars moldable. Ruffles and peplums stand out and get more dynamic. In the olden days, real horsehair was used to achieve this; now, designers sew a stiff but bendable ¼” synthetic ribbon into the hem.
“Color and pattern is important too. It attracts the eye and makes people happy.”
Reuben gravitates toward Afrocentric designs because they’re so dynamic and unique. “They’re from the past, a culture that I don’t know about, but one that is a part of me.”
Drawing from his experience designing for the women at church, Reuben also learned how to create feminine details that create allure and surprise—without revealing too much.
“Growing up at my church, I designed clothes that had hems to a certain length and arms covered.”
“I can’t help thinking back to a particular dress I designed for a friend. Where she worked, she had to wear black. So I made her a black turtleneck dress that went below the knee. To make it special and unique, I cut a slit in the sleeve at the wrist. Wrists are delicate, feminine parts of the body.”
“I try to include that element of surprise in my designs…and keep the woman who will wear it top of mind.”
“Every one of my dresses are named after a woman I know or a woman whose style I admire.”
“The TAMMIE Dress is named after Tammie from St. Louis, a very bold, fun loving, FUNNY woman. She’s one of those people you immediately love. Someone who likes to be seen. A big personality.”
The TASHA Bishop-Sleeve Dress is named after Reuben’s sister in law. The classic, feminine style complements her curvy silhouette and reflects her more quiet, introspective spirit.
Reuben on STYLE and the Magic of Clothes Style Comes from Within
Reuben advises us, “Let who you are bubble up into how you put yourself together. Dress with JOY and experiment. Try on new things that are different than what you’d normally wear. You really don’t know what looks good on YOU until you put it on. That’s where the magic can happen. For accessories, add color and metallics. PLAY with your look.
What’s Reuben’s style?
“I’m a shoe person. I usually wear interesting shoes with a plain outfit. Shoes are my thing. In all kinds of colors. My whole family is into shoes.”
Clothes are Powerful
“Clothes can change the way you see yourself. You can feel horrible, go to your closet and at least look good on the outside. Put on something you love, look in the mirror, and things aren’t that bad. The right clothes can even change your walk. It’s like therapy.”
Ashro and The Woman in Red
“Black women have a sense of style that’s different than what mainstream markets show. I like designing and seeing clothes that the women I know would like to wear. I feel like the marketplace is often missing these women.”
“When I think about Ashro and Ashro style, one woman in particular comes to mind. I was working in St. Louis at the time and spied her through the office building window. The memory feels a little like a dream. She was wearing a red coat, red and black tights, and red and black shoes. She looked fabulous.”
“When I saw her crossing the street, I was hoping that she would come in to my office building—and she DID. When she came in, I had to ask her where her outfit was from. She was a confident, strong woman of style and did not mind my complimenting her and asking where she bought her outfit. After smiling and saying thank you, she answered, ‘I got it at Ashro.’ I love seeing women dressed like this, and I’m happy to have the opportunity to design for Ashro.”
“It’s a joy to see customers in my clothes. Please enjoy this collection. I designed it for you.”
I’m a tall curvy women many of the dresses fit just right. My thing is I love the pants set but a 31” inseam is way to short. How about creating two stylish items for us leggy mature women. How about 32 to 36 inseams especially on the dressy set. Designers leave us tall women out.
Thanks for the feedback Jeri! We will pass it along to our designers and Reuben.
Hello Reuben my name Gracieuse Renard
I been a customer a long time ago I love all your Design my clothes I don’t see them nowhere’s I love your clothes I love when I wear them I feel like a woman of the Earth God create
Hi Rueben, I love your styles, but they are not catered to short women. Please take into consideration adding petites to your styles. I stand 5 ft 2 inches tall and not all petites are sizes 2,4, 6 or 8. We are short waisted, short arms, short in the crotch area for pants and short length. Your prices are great and we sometimes pay more in alterations than for the outfit.
Thanks for your feedback. We will pass it along to our merchandising team and Reuben. Thanks for loving his styles! :)
Reuben I love your clothes they are beautiful some of the clothes are to heavy. The lining in some of the clothes is not needed. If you put like a control fit lining will be nice.
Thanks for the feedback Joyce! We will share with Reuben!
Mavis B. Knight
I adore Reuben’s designs – hope that he will make a sleevless version of his designs for those of us who suffer nerve damage and cannot wear fabric on our arms!e
That’s great feedback Mavis! We will let him know!
I love his clothes I am on losing weight they very pretty clothes, I will be ordering me two suit and a pair of shoes
Sounds great Mona! Thanks so much!
Reuben..hello .. you are a Blessing to women clothing… some of the pricing for the things are is very high in pricing…. but they are beautiful very beautiful… could we see more sales… I have an account with Ashro… since 2011… if I cant but the things I want I have someone and been telling people about your fadhions…… I dont see your styles anywhere that why o love them …. keep on being Blessed
Thanks Vernice! We will pass on your comments to Reuben. Be sure to sign up for our emails and Facebook to get sale alerts. Thanks again!
Hi Reuben, I’m Jessica, I love your designs, I’m a long time customer of Ashro, so happy you’ve joined Ashro designers. I look forward to wearing your outfits. May God bless you in all of your endeavors.
Thanks for being a longtime customer Jessica! God Bless you as well.
I am insulted that you think only black women wear your clothes. I have worn them for years.
We are happy to share our designs with all women! We just especially cater our designs and fit to African American women. Thanks Barbara!
HI REUBEN FIRST OF THANK GOD FOR HIS WORD CONCERNING OUR LIVES I REALLY LOVE YOUR CLOTHEING LINE REAL NICE BUT THERE ARE TO SHORT FOR THE SISTER TO WEAR TO CHURCH COULD YOU PLEASE MAKE YOUR SKIRTS IN A 33 LENGHT AND YOUR DRESSES A LITTLE LONGER TOO AND IS 3X THE LARGEST YOU HAVE IT WOULD BE NICE IF YOU HAD SOME 4X I HAVE BEEN A ASHRO CUSTOMER FOR 5 YEARS MAN I LOVE YOUR BEAUTIFUL DESIGNS PLEASE PLEASE THINK ABOUT LONGER LENGHT AND BIGGER SIZE
Thanks for the feedback Florie!!
the designs are wonderful. I wish there were more for taller women.I am 6ft tall an have a hard time finding pants long enough.
Hello Reuben. My question is, are the fabrics authentic african fabbrics (cotton). I love the clothing but I can not stand polyester, it makes me overheated.
Our fabrics are cotton, not polyester. Thanks for the question Teresa!
Reuben i love your story and your line of clothes.keep up the good work that GOD created for you.
I would like to thank you for being a good designer.In for making beautiful clothes.I am 5’0 ft I weight 213 lbs .It is hard to find clothes that could fit right. It either to long or to tight.But this pass Easter going to church with your designer you call Robin dress I felt beautiful and I stand out and the crowd.
Reuben, I admire hearing how strong your female family members are because I come from a family of strong females, who love creative fashions such as yours and Asho’s. I have been an Ashro customer for years and I admire your beautiful designs. God has truly blessed you, take this blessing and run with it Reuben. Job well done.
Thank you Mavis. We will pass along your comments to Reuben.
Teresa &Nathan agu
Very Impressive Clothes Line, I love your story and keep up the good work!!!
Reuben.keep the prices practical and affordable ,I will not only buy ,I will also advertise everywhere I go and I travel internationally as well
Thanks and God bless.S.J
Thank you Jenny! God Bless You Too! :)
Janet Garner- Mullins
Thanks for following your calling. I am a long time Ashro customer and my style is Afrocentric, maxi dresses, wide pants, and wrap long skirts. I like your clothes but don’t see any the length I like. I am a sized 6-8.
Thanks for the feedback Janet!
Yes Reuben, I am Mrs. Gaither who own my on business. I have a gift store that’s everything. I have reach to selling Ethic clothing of all kind especially in our African American clothing. I would like to carry some of your clothing in my store if that would be possible. I saw your clothes in a Ashro.com catalog and I really did love what I saw. Also is 3x the larger you have.
Hi , that is my question too! I would love to see a size 4X as there are so many women like me that like a little more room to move. I am 5’ 9” tall and love beautiful clothing.
I am an Artist and I make one of a kind jewelry and have a small home based business. I work with all metals and only use natural gemstones. I make some awesome African styles that are my creations!
Another thing is that most of us ladies wear a different size on top and a smaller or larger size on the bottoms. I wear a 2 X on the bottom and a 3X on top but would prefer a 4 X on top. Is there some way that we can accomplish sets with two different sizes.
I adore the red dress with the cape and the newest dresses made by Reuben…exquisite!
I would like to mention that I was born in Havana , Cuba and found out last year that I have 17 % African genes. I pray that this qualifies me to wear your fashions, lol. I love ashro fashions! Congrats Ashro and Reuben! I loved reading about you Reuben!
Thanks for the feedback! We will share with our merchandising team. And thanks for the Congratulations. Isn’t Reuben fabulous ladies?
Yes Janice, 3X is the largest we offer right now, but we’re always looking for opportunities. We will pass along this feedback to our merchandising team. Thank you!
Hi do you think you would ever design clothes for tall women,I stand at 6ft tall and is a plus size as well?
Hi Carmella, we’re always looking for new ideas & opportunities. We will pass along this feedback to our merchandising team. Thank you!
I love your clothes but as a long tall woman, find the lengths are too short. Sure wish you would design your fabulous clothes in my size 16 tall.