The United States President Donald Trump’s daughter and adviser, Ivanka has announced she is shutting down her clothing line. According to her, she hopes to focus on her work in Washington. A tough decision it must be as it is unusual for any member of the First Family to make such a decision – picking politics over business and vice-versa.
Quoting the White House senior adviser, she said on Tuesday her
“…focus for the foreseeable future will be the work I am doing here in Washington” and called the company’s closure “the only fair outcome for my team and partners.” Trump handed over day-to-day operations after her father won the election but continued to own the company. This raised ethical concerns as some of the company’s activities were against the government’s policy thrust.
Based in the Trump Tower in New York, the brand had been dropped by retailers such as Nordstrom due to flagging sales. Its dresses, shoes and handbags were regarded as conflicting with the US Government’s job creation drive as they were all made in foreign countries. Some of its factories are in China and Indonesia.
Meanwhile, the closure comes as a surprise even within the company, which has 18 employees. As recently as last week, officials had been discussing the implementation of long-delayed oversight of its foreign factory partners.
Company chief Abigail Klem said last year she had been planning her first trip to tour some of the facilities that make Ivanka Trump products, and she said the company would boost oversight of the treatment of its largely female workforce. The company never shared details of those initiatives.
Trump’s brand of affordable fashion for young, professional women became a polarizing political statement, bought in solidarity by Trump supporters and boycotted vigorously by others.
“Views on the brand have become highly polarized, and it has become a lightning rod for protests and boycotts,” said Neil Saunders, managing director of GlobalData Retail. “While the company is still viable, doing business has become far more challenging and these problems will only increase.”
Trump will retain the copyrights and intellectual property associated with her brand, which analysts say leaves the door open for future relaunches.
The announcement comes less than two weeks after Canadian department store chain Hudson’s Bay Co. said it would remove all Ivanka Trump products from its website and 90 stores because of the brand’s “performance.”
A number of national retailers, including Lord and Taylor, Dillards, Bloomingdales and Amazon.com, carry the first daughter’s line and will continue to do so until their agreements run out.
Trump started her fine-jewelry line in 2007 and has since expanded to shoes, clothing and eyewear. In December, she opened a store in the lobby of Manhattan’s Trump Tower, where, she said, she hoped to sell handbags, jewelry and candles directly to consumers, raising concerns among some ethics experts, who said it was yet another way for the Trump family to tap into the wallets of their supporters.
Ethics experts said the arrangement continued to raise a number of red flags a-year-and-a-half into the Trump presidency.
“Shutting down now is too little, too late,” said Norman Eisen, who served as chief White House ethics lawyer under President Barack Obama. “She maintains a number of other business ties, including her trademarks in China, making this a profoundly conflicted role.”
Ivanka Trump made more than $5 million from her fashion company between January 2016 and March 2017, according to financial disclosures released last year. She also received $3.9 million from her family’s D.C. hotel last year, according to government disclosure forms.
Other Trump-branded businesses, many of which Ivanka had a hand in growing and in which she still holds a financial stake, have experienced differing fortunes since Trump’s presidency began last year. The company’s name has come down off of hotels in Toronto, Panama and New York’s Soho neighborhood, as well as from some residential buildings in New York.
While the Trump Hotel in Washington charges some of the highest rates in the city and has become a popular meeting place for Republican political groups, religious organizations and businesses, data on other Trump properties including the Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida show signs of price drops as sports teams and charities move their business elsewhere.
Sales data on Trump-branded condominiums in New York City show them attracting lower prices than competing properties since Donald Trump became president. Meanwhile, the Trump Organization’s plans to dramatically expand its hotel portfolio in the United States have failed to progress, having opened no hotels under its announced “Scion” and “American Idea” brands.