In early February, retailers started dropping the Ivanka Trump line left, right, and centre, apparently not because of her presidential father’s policies, but because of poor performance. As of a few days ago, 11 retailers have broken up with Ivanka’s brand, most notably, Nordstrom. In a public statement, a Nordstrom spokeswoman said, “Sales of the brand have steadily declined to the point where it didn’t make good business sense for us to continue with the line.”[/caption]
Beginning in October, the online #GrabYourWallet campaign encouraged citizens to vote with their dollars by not supporting Trump family business. Celebs like Chelsea Handler and Kristin Davis have been supporting the efforts by shopping at Nordstrom after Donald Trump’s childish tweet about the department store not being nice to his daughter. (Maybe Nordstrom got inspired by his television personality and let out a casual “You’re fired!”)
So I, too, went to shop at Nordstrom.
Except my purchase was a pair of Ivanka Trump shoes.
I bought one of the last pairs of her shoes available at Nordstrom. My intention was to confirm inventory levels at the Vancouver location, but when the sales rep asked me for my size, I figured, why not?
Lysa were the block-heel pumps I fell in love with. I was told it was a good seller, although the only other style they carried, a pair of black snake print flats, weren’t so hot, not to mention they fit at least half a size larger. Plus, her entire line was marked down (the sale at the Vancouver store starts today, but I got my hands on them early because I specifically asked about the brand!) So well-intentioned research turned into a purchase. Whoops.
I didn’t think much of the purchase. To be completely transparent, this is my third pair of Ivanka Trump shoes, the first two were flats I found on sale at The Bay around $60 to $70 each.
But when I got home I started doing some research, and found out any benefit of the doubt I gave Ivanka Trump quickly evaporated. Among other reasons, here are four solid ones you should know before you tweet out #GrabYourWallet:
1. Sweatshop Working Conditions
Xuankai Footwear Ltd, the shoe factory contracted by her licensee (Mark Fisher) in China, apparently required workers to work up to 16 hours and systematically delayed paying workers as first reported by Racked. Contrast this with how Ivanka backed her father’s protectionist campaign to bring work back to the US.
2. Not Empowering Real #WomenWhoWork
G-III, the contractor that designs Ivanka Trump’s clothes does not offer a single day of paid maternity leave, just 12 weeks of unpaid leave. Contrast this with how she tries to build her brand on supporting mothers in the workforce.
3. Just Celebrity Endorsement
She probably didn’t have anything to do with the designs, and just lent her name to licensees. She’s quoted in the New York Times, saying “When I started my business, I recognized where my strengths were and knew that I didn’t have any experience in production and manufacturing … I am not a designer. I am an entrepreneur.”
4. Terrible Designs, Just Terrible!
One Washington Post journalist wrote about how retailers who haven’t been able to keep up with the trend of looser fitting workwear for women have been struggling, like J. Crew, so it’s not just Ivanka Trump’s line performing poorly. In addition, she went into detail about how ugly and expensive her designs were.
Initially, my position was, family politics aside, I still like her shoes. They fit my feet so well! Although I have to admit, I was acting with blinders on. How can you separate family and politics from business? So the verdict is, I’ll have to return them. It will be hard to part with these otherwise perfectly made block-heel pumps, but alas…
So where does the Ivanka Trump brand go from here? The national retail reporter of the Washington Post figures just because the Nordstrom customer doesn’t need it, that doesn’t mean other women won’t continue shopping the brand.
However, if, as Rosemary K. Young, Ivanka Trump’s senior director of marketing, believes that “The strength of a brand is measured not only by the profits it generates, but the integrity it maintains,” she’s got a lot of work to do in the integrity department.