Ivanka Trump Products Bite The Dust At Retailers, But Is Her Brand Actually In Trouble?
Yet another department store has removed Ivanka Trump's clothing line from its shelves — but the presidential adviser's company isn't necessarily doomed. The brand began disappearing from stores days after her father won the presidency, which has raised questions about the viability of the Ivanka Trump brand. The ongoing political backlash is only one side of the story, though, according to marketing experts.
Update: On July 24, the Ivanka Trump company announced that it's closing down. "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,” Ivanka said in a statement. “So making this decision now is the only fair outcome for my team and partners."
Earlier: "For those that hate the president, her brand is a horrifying, repulsive artifact of what he represents," Eric Schiffer, a brand and marketing expert and CEO of Reputation Management Consultants, tells Bustle. "For those that are neutral politically but fascinated by the presidency, I think the Ivanka Trump brand benefits. So it’s been a fascinating couple of years to watch the way in which the impact is cut in both directions."
The #GrabYourWallet campaign continues to publicly call out retailers who stock Ivanka Trump products. But Schiffer notes that the first daughter and presidential adviser also has a massive platform where she can showcase her clothing, shoes, and jewelry while traveling with the president. Photos of her outfits frequently appear alongside news articles, in fashion magazines, and on social media (not to mention her own Instagram account).
"That’s a tremendous opportunity to influence fashion purchasers," he says. "So she benefits from just the power of sheer numbers, and that’s not to be understated."
While retailers such as T.J. Maxx and Marshall's, both owned by parent company TJX Cos., have merely moved Ivanka's brand to less prominent displays, many others have removed her products entirely. Most of those retailers attributed the move to the brand's decreasing performance, as a post-election boom was followed by slowing sales beginning in 2017. Sales in August 2017 were down negative one percent compared to the previous August, Racked reported.
A spokesperson for the Ivanka Trump brand says in an emailed statement that the decision from Hudson's Bay, the most recent company to stop stocking its products, can be attributed to a retail landscape that is "causing more and more brands to focus their efforts on e-commerce." The Ivanka Trump brand began selling its products online in April, and its clothing is still for sale at some major retailers.
Nevertheless, the number of companies choosing to remove the product from either their brick-and-mortar or online shelves continues to grow.
One of Canada's largest retailers, Hudson's Bay, confirmed on Friday that it "is phasing out this brand through the fall based on its performance." It's already removed Ivanka Trump-branded clothing, shoes, and accessories from its website, and they'll soon disappear from all 90 stores across Canada.
Although the parent company for Hudson's Bay also owns Lord & Taylor and Saks Fifth Avenue stores in the United States, it said in a statement to USA Today that each chain "makes decisions on its individual merchandise assortment based on brand performance."
The online shoe store announced on Twitter that it was dropping Ivanka Trump shoe line days after the 2016 election. The announcement was in direct response to Shannon Coulter, the co-founder of the #GrabYourWallet campaign, though an official statement to Fast Company said the brand was "not selling well."
"Rue is a flash sale site & we constantly change the brands we offer. At this point, we are not selling Ivanka Trump merch," RueLaLa tweeted a few weeks after the 2016 election. The statement still left open the possibility that RueLaLa would stock the brand in the future.
Nordstrom dropped the Ivanka Trump brand back in February 2017. "We’ve said all along we make buying decisions based on performance,” Nordstrom said in a statement at the time. “In this case, based on the brand’s performance, we’ve decided not to buy it for this season."
Neiman Marcus quickly followed in Nordstrom's footsteps, and the retailer stopped carrying Ivanka Trump jewelry online. Items from the line have popped up on the website since then, though none are currently in stock. So it's unclear whether the store actually cut ties with the jewelry line or still carries the accessories occasionally.
Belk stopped carrying the brand online, but said in a statement that its 22 flagship stores will still stock the Ivanka Trump line.
Burlington Coat Factory
Joining the storm of retailers who dropped the brand in February 2017, Burlington Coat Factory also stopped selling its products online. The company did not comment on the decision, and it's unclear if they still sell Ivanka Trump clothing in stores.
Ivanka's line quietly disappeared from the online store Jet last year, too. Jet is owned by Walmart, which still stocks the brand.
ShopStyle removed Ivanka Trump shoes from its website last year, Mic reported.
A DSW employee at the company’s headquarters in Columbus, Ohio told a customer last month that it no longer stocked the Ivanka Trump brand, according to an email obtained by Racked.
“The last order placed for this brand was early 2017 and there are no future orders placed, so yes, no longer carrying the line,” the vendor specialist said in the email, which was dated May 31.
Though none of these retailers explicitly criticized Ivanka Trump or the president when they ditched her products, many of the announcements followed politically-motivated customer boycotts. Z. John Zhang, a marketing professor at the University of Pennsylvania's business school, warns that it's "very dangerous for a company to try to use the business to advance their political goals," as it will always alienate some potential customer.
But despite the mounting list of stores that have stopped stocking the Ivanka Trump brand, it's unlikely to shutter any time soon.