After what has been a bumpy few years, the Ivanka Trump brand has shuttered its doors for good.
Started in 2007 as a fine jewelry company, the Ivanka Trump brand branched out into sportswear, footwear, accessories, fragrance, denim and other categories over the years. Before Donald Trump took office, the label was estimated to be a $100 million brand, but post-inauguration, the company had a rocky time with consumers due partially to #GrabYourWallet founder Shannon Coulter’s call for a boycott of the brand in October 2016. Many shoppers associated the brand with the first daughter although she stepped away from the company before her father took office.
Coulter said Tuesday that she doubted that the company’s decision was triggered by Trump’s focus on Washington. The activist suggested that it was more likely sparked by the approaching fall retail season and trying to avoid the embarrassment of not being carried by major retailers.
She said over the past 18 months, the pattern has been that retailers have come under pressure to stop carrying a Trump brand in the wake of “things that consumers consider to be racist or xeonphobic,”citing the the Trump administration’s attempted Muslim ban and the president’s controversial tweets about the Charlottesville, N.C. violence last year as examples. What she described as “this third big wave” started after the international spotlight was put on the Trump administration “forcibly separating thousands of immigrant children from their parents.” Coulter said, “For about eight weeks, I’ve seen an immense amount of pressure on retailers. I wasn’t surprised when Hudson’s Bay dropped her [brand.] And I’m not surprised by the news today.”
Executives at the company did not disclose how many employees were affected by the closure. Retail distribution dwindled in recent months, and earlier this month, Hudson Bay dropped the collection in a very public way. That was followed by the circulation of an online petition by activist group Care2, which called for Lord & Taylor to do the same. The group had nearly reached its goal of 18,000 signatures Tuesday.
In September of 2016, the company had distribution in 800 stores internationally including such accounts as Lord & Taylor, Zappos, Amazon and Nordstrom. Earlier this year the company launched e-commerce on its site. Executives at the company declined to comment Tuesday about how many stores carry the collection.
Ivanka Trump said in a statement, “When we first started this brand, no one could have predicted the success that we would achieve. After 17 months in Washington, I do not know when or if I will ever return to the business, but I do know that my focus for the foreseeable future will be the work I am doing here in Washington, so making this decision now is the only fair outcome for my team and partners.”
She added, “I am beyond grateful for the work of our incredible team who has inspired so many women, each other and myself included. While we will not continue our mission together, I know that each of them will thrive in their next chapter.”
Before relocating to the Beltway with her husband, Jared Kushner, and their children, Trump played an integral role in voicing the company’s working woman persona. When Trump resigned from her company, she placed it in a trust. The founder also was said to have worked closely with the ethics counsel in order to adhere to the Office of Government Ethics guidelines to try to avoid any potential conflicts of interest.
Abigail Klem, president of the Ivanka Trump brand, said, “We are incredibly proud of the brand we have built and the content and product we’ve developed for our customers. Our platform has become an indispensable resource for our loyal community of women. We’ve seen strong sales since the brand’s inception, which continued through this year with the successful launch of our rapidly growing e-commerce business.”
Klem’s statement noted how the closing was “a very difficult decision for Ivanka and I am very grateful for the opportunity to have led such a talented and committed team. When faced with the most unique circumstances, the team displayed strength and optimism. From the initial launch of the brand in 2014 to the recent expansion of direct-to-consumer capabilities on our web site, I am thankful to the team for the great work they have done and to our outstanding partners who so diligently executed our brand vision.”
Klem first joined the company in 2013 and took on the leadership role, when the brand’s namesake announced that she and her husband would be relocating to Washington, D.C.
Morris Goldfarb, chief executive officer of the G-III Apparel Group, which produces Ivanka Trump sportswear, dresses and coats, said Tuesday that the Ivanka Trump license isn’t being renewed and they will be fulfilling their commitments.
Since late 2012, G-III has had the license to produce and distribute Trump’s apparel and will continue to ship through the end of the calendar year. It shipped its first collections to department and specialty stores in the U.S., Canada and Mexico for spring/summer 2014.
“As we have many new initiatives, there’s not a plan to get rid of the people. They’ll be reassigned to different areas of our business,” Goldfarb said.
According to sources, Trump’s collections for G-III were distributed to stores such as Lord & Taylor, Dillard’s and Macy’s.
Besides HBC in Canada which said last week it had pulled Ivanka Trump from its Web site and that it would stop selling her products in its 90 brick and mortar stores throughout Canada due to performance issues, Nordstrom also dropped the Trump collection last year. They sold it through spring 2017, but didn’t buy it for fall 2017 or after.
In addition to its web site, the Trump brand was also sold at the company’s store at 725 Fifth Avenue, which sells products including handbags and shoes.