Ivanka Trump said she is shutting down her namesake clothing brand because of her focus on her work in Washington – a rare move by a Trump family member to choose between politics and business.
The president’s daughter and White House senior adviser said 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 — which raised ethical concerns, experts said.
The company, based in New York’s Trump Tower, had been dropped by retailers such as Nordstrom due to flagging sales. Its dresses, shoes and handbags – all of which were made in foreign countries such as China and Indonesia – also conflicted with her push for more jobs in the United States.
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.
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.
Ivanka Trump made more than $5 million from her fashion company between January 2016 and March 2017, according to financial disclosures released last year.
(c) 2018, The Washington Post · Drew Harwell, Abha Bhattarai