ASHRO: Take This From Your Mother…Right Now

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I, like many of you Parlouristas, love my mom (or mamma figure) through and through. Outside of being generally hilarious, one thing that I can always count on Connie for is her taste for style. She’s no Stepford wife/mom, but she’s also not rocking Juicy Couture or Apple Bottoms. I’ve never had to endure and ugly holiday sweaters, rollers & bathrobes or generally embarrassing fashion moments with her—she’s always consistently looking fly. So a year or so ago, because she lives over 500 miles away, I went online and purchased a gift for mom, and somehow she started to get the catalog of the company I ordered from. No big deal, she loves the store and hates crowds…but then came more catalogs…and then the hollow-point bullet of Black American fashion arrived on hers (and my) doorstep : ASHRO.

Parlour is no stranger to the world of Especially Yours and ASHRO aka “You don’t have to be the first lady of your church to look like one” gear. If you ever want to see a full-live ASHRO fashion show, down to the wigs and shoes, check out your nearest Black mega-church or Tyler Perry play. While I don’t look down on the gear and it’s consumer, its just not mine nor my mom’s taste—or so I thought. While on the phone, she told me she was flipping through it, commenting “oh that’s cute” and “hmm, I wish I could try that on” I casually asked her what she was looking at. At the name ASHRO, my heart kinda sank and thoughts of Alzheimers and senility flashed through my head. I picked myself up (keep in mind this is all in a matter of five seconds) and went online to see what she was looking at. While her selection was actually kinda nice, I realized…this is a problem. I’ve deemed the gold leather jacket and pants ensemble at the top of my “not while I’m still alive” list.

Your mom is cool, she thinks she’s fly, funky and fresh. And while she may or may not have a closet full of St. John & Sunny Names suits, don’t underestimate the power of the ‘RO. I found myself looking at the site for well over an hour at the cornucopia of wigs, matching hats & shoes, afrocentric caftans ( are they flammable?) and shoes with fur on them. It’s fascinating. Seeing how the selection is targeted to women about 40+, I wonder – is this what’s next for young Black women? Are we to suddenly start rocking huge hats and bedazzled jean jackets and the Ginger Pant when we reach a certain age? Only time will tell, but until then, if you see ASHRO in your family home during home visits, quietly dispose of it as soon as possible. Your mom, and the woman who sits behind her at church, will thank you.

  • Ricki

    Why does THAT “afrocentric” attire have to be so awful?

  • Ricki
  • http://www.parlourmagazine.com J. Baker
  • J’alla

    I’m not half as mad about the fashions as I am at the fact that this one-stop “afrocentric” shop isn’t even owned by Black people. It’s owned by east-indians. While I have love for them, I don’t see any of us capitalizing on Sari’s. The bigger issue here is that even in 2009, we are still unable to have our own hold on the consumer market that we dump billions of dollars a year on. When will we stop patronizing outside sources that sell our culture back to us, wake up and build and support Black owned businesses?

  • Ricki

    Thanks for that info, J’alla. I’m an avid supporter of black enterprise, so much so that I will pay MORE money to buy from a black owned business and I’m less likely to haggle with them about price.

  • Michelle

    J’alla. Please check your facts. Ashro is not owned by Indians. It is a Black Managed company out of Westmont Illinois.

  • K.

    The problem with ASHRO, as I see it, is not so much every item of clothing in the catalog, but the “get up” from head to toe. Take away the outlandish Church Hats, take away the gladiator pumps, take away the matching bags and faux Egyptian jewelry, and there ARE a few basic jacket dresses that can be wonderfully accessorized in a more classy, sophisticated manner. For a plus sized woman looking for a jacket dress for a wedding outfit in lieu of a gown, you could do a lot worse than ASHRO. Some of the more basic Spring-looking suits would look just fine for an afternoon wedding in a garden, but leave the hat home, leave the purse home, leave the shoes home. Remember, you don’t have to buy everything in the window. Just the great table, without all the crap sitting on top of it.

  • Sehar Peerzada

    Please tell me who now owns Ashro? I actually met the owners years ago in New York at a trade show. At that time they asked my company to produce real mudcloth vests for them, but I told them they could get a better price at home in India!. Maybe someone bought the name. I would love to know.