For one thing, Ashley Stewart isn’t a real person. Instead, the name is a combination of two 1990s fashion icons—Laura Ashley and Martha Stewart.
It all started when real estate investor Joseph Sitt founded the brand in 1991. He owned commercial properties in New York City’s traditionally Black neighborhoods and couldn’t find tenants. So he started a brand to rent his own properties.
The concept was to offer plus-size women’s clothing to Black women, targeting a demographic the fashion industry largely ignored.
But since then, it’s been a difficult journey.
The company has survived bankruptcy twice, first in 2010 and again in 2014. Its current CEO, investor James Rhee, took over the brand after the second filing.
Rhee ushered in a new era of online store sales growth and has largely turned the company around since 2014.
Today, Ashley Stewart remains faithful to the ideas from its founding. You’ll find clothing sizes 12–26, primarily geared to Black women.
Despite their target niche consumers, Ashley Stewart offers all women of color, size, and shape fashionable choices. They sell various fashion pieces, including dresses, tops, skinny jeans, bottoms, swimwear, and accessories.
Their styles range from casual to semiformal, including versatile and unique prints, patterns, and details. From sweater, maxi, midi, and date night to casual dresses, you’re sure to find something unique.
Many of Ashley Stewart’s pieces have a flattering neckline and waist-cinching tie, going against the traditional belief that plus-sized dresses need to be flowy and loose-fitted to look attractive.
They have a vast collection of clothes to enhance your figure. But you won’t find their designs elsewhere on the internet.
Affordability-wise, the brand is average. Their products are neither expensive nor cheap compared to other retailers in the plus-size market.
Most products are usually made of polyester, spandex, or microfiber, which ensure durability and strength. Unfortunately, many customers have complained that these products are low quality and don’t hold up well over time.
One downside of this brand is the lack of sizes. Available sizes are usually up to 36, whereas other plus-size clothing brands offer sizes 44+.
The positive reviews focus on the great fit and look of the outfits.
The negative reviews mention the refund policy, poor customer service, bad quality clothing, and the Ashley Stewart credit card.
While most eCommerce clothing brands offer free shipping and returns, Ashley Stewart charges for both. The policies are explained on the website, but let’s be honest—how many of us read the fine print of a return policy before buying?
For example, let’s say you buy a bathing suit for $21. The final purchase will cost $30 with nonrefundable shipping. If you decide to return the item using the company’s return label, another $9 will be deducted from your refund.
So your refund on a $30 purchase that didn’t fit will only be $12. For customers who expect standard online shopping return policies, this is quite an unwelcome surprise.
To make matters worse, customer service is poor according to many reviews. Some of the items also don’t last or don’t fit as promised.
And like many company credit cards, Ashley Stewart cardholders are often hit with an unpleasant late fee or interest charges.
Overall, Ashley Stewart is a leader in the plus-size clothing world, especially for Black women. Most of the brand’s stores and marketing focus on marginalized communities, and the corporate environment is famous for its diversity and inclusion.
However, the Ashley Stewart reviews we’ve found online are very poor for an eCommerce clothing brand.
If you’re interested in buying from Ashley Stewart, it’s a good idea to check reviews from other customers before purchasing.
And if you want to upgrade your outfit but aren’t sure it will fit—and aren’t ready to lose $20 to shipping and return charges—consider trying on clothes at one of the brick-and-mortar Ashley Stewart retail stores.