Suede ankle boots, dainty diamond bracelets, unmemorable women’s fragrances – these are the types of Ivanka Trump branded products that are vanishing from the shelves of luxury retailers Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus across the country this month. Such disappearances are happening to the dismay of Ivanka’s chattiest advocates in the White House, who could not help but publicly lament about the situation.
Succeeding Nordstrom’s February decision to drop Ivanka Trump’s eponymous fashion label, President Donald Trump quickly and unsurprisingly took to Twitter to complain.
“My daughter Ivanka has been treated so unfairly by @Nordstrom. She is a great person – always pushing me to do the right thing! Terrible!” the President tweeted.
No one seriously expects Trump to sit back and watch his daughter’s presence in the fashion world diminish. And maybe many outspoken parents would, like Trump, blame someone or something else for the failure of their child’s entrepreneurial endeavor. But regardless of whatever retail conspiracy Trump and his supporters have infatuated themselves with, Nordstrom’s decision to cut ties with Ivanka Trump was not political – it was understandable, and it was just business.
Calling Ivanka Trump’s success in the retail industry “incredible” would be an overstatement. Described as a brand that “addressed the needs of the modern, professional woman,” with supposedly chic and accessibly priced fashion, Ivanka Trump is sold in department and online stores such as Zappos, Macy’s and Belk. But previously widespread product availability was the brand’s sole impressive characteristic. In both design and price, Ivanka Trump garments – ironically made in China and Hong Kong – are ordinary and comparable to those of cheaper labels sold at Kohl’s or J.C. Penny. Even the brand’s #WomenWhoWork initiative is dated and unoriginal, as it treats the conceptual “working woman,” as not regular, but revolutionary.
Still, the flawed brand managed to generate $100 million in revenues during its last fiscal year, according to the company that manufactures and distributes Ivanka’s fashions, G-III Apparel Group. And it was not until the October launch of an anti-Trump boycott that things turned sour for the first daughter’s business. The movement called #GrabYourWallet originated on Twitter and targeted dozens of companies and organizations that tied to the Trump family. By encouraging people to stop purchasing products from retail giants like Amazon and Walmart, the boycott’s founders ambitiously hoped to see businesses end its relations with Trump.
So how effective has the #GrabYourWallet movement been in achieving its goals? Who knows?
“It’s difficult to attribute any direct causal relationship (between the boycott and a company’s decision to address conflict),” said School of Journalism and Media Studies professor and director Bey-Ling Sha. “Social media is an amplification tool, but it’s amplifying voices to people who would have already been hearing those messages anyway.”
However, even with the inherent bubble effect of social media, it’s safe to say that the internet-based boycott, to an extent, influenced the actions of some retailers, such as Shoes.com, which dropped Ivanka’s entire collection in November. The Canadian website later tweeted, “We understand and your voices have been heard,” to #GrabYourWallet boycotters. And in the weeks leading up to Trump’s election, sales of Ivanka Trump apparel had dropped by 70 percent at Nordstrom alone.
In fact, it almost seemed a courtesy when Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus kept the piteous brand on their luxury rosters through the end of 2016, which is why Trump’s troll-ish arguing of his daughter’s “unfair treatment” – of which he can only blame himself for – is invalid. Only a company run by Ivanka-infatuated hopefuls would continue selling the businesswoman’s increasingly unpopular product. Yet, the 45th President of the U.S. – a man who built an entire campaign on self-described entrepreneurial excellence – lacks the competency to distinguish “bullying” from an entirely sound business decision.
Aside from magnifying President Trump’s imprudence, the crippling of the Ivanka Trump brand has inadvertently illuminated White House adviser Kellyanne Conway’s complete disregard of a well-establish ethics law that bars federal employees from using their public office to tout products. On a Feb. 8 Fox News broadcast, she repeatedly told the network’s viewers to buy Ivanka Trump merchandise – a move that even the first daughter herself reportedly condemned, according to Politico. For a second, a falter as bad as Conway’s may make one feel bad for Ivanka, who has never actually politicized her fashion line.
But after initially rallying for the success of the brand, Conway only reminded viewers precisely why Ivanka Trump does not deserve an ounce of compassion — she supports her father’s presidency. In the end, that fact alone is enough reason for any wallet-wielding, empowered woman to leave an Ivanka Trump dress in the fitting room. And if no one’s buying, then retailers cannot be blamed for bailing.