As rough as public opinionâs been on President Trump, things were going relatively well for Ivanka Trump. Even though it was clear from the start that the Presidentâs favorite child was going to have some kind of as-yet-defined role in the White House while her husband, Jared Kushner, works as an unpaid senior adviser, she was still managing to cut a separate, less divisive figure.
Sheâd been on record saying that she didnât always agree with her fatherâs political policies, and her personal website, littered with the slogan #WomenWhoWork, seemed in some ways to distance her from her fatherâs misogynistic reputation, which incited actions like the January 21 Womenâs March on Washington. I saw plenty of signs at the Womenâs March proclaiming âFree Melaniaâ or âFuck Trump,â but I didnât catch a single sign smearing Ivanka.
But even as she makes some positive impactsâlike reportedlyÂ dissuading her father from diluting Obama-era protections for LGBT workersâIvankaâs personal brand might not be able to count on that warm narrative much longer.
The tone seems to have finally started shifting this week, when Nordstrom announced that it will drop Ivankaâs eponymous clothing and shoe lines from its stock. Though the decision is nominally chalked up to lagging sales, it still reads ominously for Ivankaâs own business holdings. (Like her father, she has also stepped away from a day-to-day role in the Trump Organization, although unlike the President, she will only receive fixed payments from the company rather than profits.) According to Womenâs Wear Daily, the decision to pull Ivanka Trump products was due to poor brand performance, and deciding not to restock a line for a season or more is not an uncommon practice in the fashion business.
Still, dipping sales werenât the only thing pressuring Nordstrom. The upscale retailer had been targeted by the #GrabYourWallet campaign, which urges boycotts of stores that sell Donald or Ivanka Trump-brand merchandise. Hashtag-driven retail activism may have limited impacts on large companiesâ bottom linesâAmazon, which is listed for selling both Trumpsâ clothing lines, doesnât appear to be hurtingâbut it can still force executives to clarify their own positions and distance their brands from an unpopular Administration. Just look to last weekendâs #deleteUber campaign or the backlash against Taylor Gourmet founder Casey Pattenâs meeting at the White House. The reported 200,000 users who deleted Uber are a tiny sliver of the ride-hailing companyâs 40 million active users, and there are still plenty of lunch orders for hoagies. Still, the outrage was enough to force those companies to take some face-saving actions, like Uber setting up a $3 million legal defense fund for drivers who get caught up in President Trumpâs travel ban, or Patten sending free sandwiches to the American Civil Liberties Union.
Until this week, though, it seemed that Ivanka Trumpâs own projects were insulated from this kind of public scrutiny. While designers publicly refused to offer their wares to Melania Trump, few commented on Ivanka’s ongoing presence in their industry. For a spell, she was able to thread fashion with politics: Fashion critics praised the $158 pale, pink Ivanka Trump-brand shift dress she wore at the Republican National Convention for its reasonable price point. The dress quickly sold out after Ivankaâs Twitter account plugged it. But a similar promo for a $10,800 bracelet Ivanka wore during a post-election interview tanked. It seemed that, despite ethical concerns, her personal brand was destined to benefit from the massive publicity of her fatherâs presidency.
Getting dumped by Nordstrom, which helped Ivanka launch her brand in 2011, bodes even worse for the first daughterâs business. This isnât a singular designer making a personal political statement, it’s a commercial giant slowly backing away from a name it thinks might be bad for business. Neiman Marcus followed suit Friday when itÂ pulled Ivanka Trumpâs jewelry collection. Whether those actions are the result of a real lag in sales or are publicity-based decisions, if two major retailers are dropping her brand, othersâincluding Bloomingdaleâs, Lord & Taylor, Macyâs, Zappos, and Amazonânow have precedent to follow.Â And even if Nordstrom says dropping Ivanka was a “performance”-based decision, the company hasn’t beenÂ entirely apolitical, judging byÂ a pro-immigration memo the company’s executives sent to their employees last week.
Whoâs to say whether Nordstrom disassociating itself with the divisive Trump moniker is a surprise to Ivanka herself? Her brand, which offers mid-market ready-to-wear, most of which lands somewhere around the $150 mark, is built around marketing to young women who work. The line offers approachable, more conservative spin-offs of runway trends at a price points most women early in their careers can afford. A market like DC should be the ideal target demographic for Ivankaâs line.
But educated working young women with disposable incomes in fashion-forward urban areas are not the Trump nameâs core constituents. Despite the relatively neutral status Ivanka has tried to carve out, and her attempts to ingratiate herself into DC society, her familyâs name is massively unpopular in blue islands full of young, professional women with disposable income. Itâs easy to imagine they would be loathe to wear a pair of heels with a Trump logo scrawled across the insole, or a handbag with the gold-branded placard that says âTrump.â
And even when she’s not repping her own brand, all of Ivanka’s wardrobe choices can be instantly politicized. Her Instagram post last weekendÂ featuring her in a silver Carolina Herrera gown and Kushner in a tuxedo was immediately and punishingly raked over byÂ social media.
Given Ivankaâs business acumen, letâs assume she anticipated her business could suffer from her fatherâs election. But whatâs really shocking from the Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus developments is that theyâre almost preemptive in the face of anti-Trump boycott campaigns.
Intentional or not, Nordstrom has put the word out there: the Trump name, including Ivankaâs, is bad for business.