Ivanka Trump announced Tuesday that she was closing her eponymous fashion brand, following a firestorm of criticism about potential conflicts of interests and flagging sales fueled by a political backlash.
The 36-year-old, who has been frequently photographed stepping out of her Washington villa wearing shoes from her namesake label, stepped away from the company in 2017 before moving to Washington to work as an advisor to her father, President Donald Trump.
While the clothing, footwear and accessories brand experienced a surge in sales in 2016, the year that Trump won the presidency, the label suffered a backlash after he took office, and had been axed by a growing number of retail chains.
The mother-of-three, who with husband Jared Kushner made at least $82 million last year, is unpaid for her White House work but has faced sustained criticism about possible conflicts of interest with her business.
In January 2017, she announced before moving to Washington that she was stepping down from the family real estate firm, The Trump Organization, and from actively managing her brand, which was placed into a trust.
As first daughter, she has travelled overseas representing her father, attended meetings with visiting heads of state and travelled domestically, fueling speculation that she may harbor future political ambitions of her own.
“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,” she said in a statement.
“So making this decision now is the only fair outcome for my team and partners.”
The first daughter said “no one could have predicted the success” the brand would achieve when it launched, and that she was “beyond grateful” for her “incredible team who has inspired so many women.”
“While we will not continue our mission together, I know that each of them will thrive in their next chapter,” she added.
– ‘Very difficult’ –
Last year, US department stores Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus both dropped her line, citing slow sales after political opponents of the Trumps called for a boycott on stores doing business with the first family.
Earlier this month, Canadian retailer Hudson’s Bay — whose holdings include US retailers Saks Fifth Avenue and Lord & Taylor — phased out the brand.
Abigail Klem, president of the Ivanka Trump brand, said Tuesday she knew that the decision had been a “very difficult” one for the first daughter.
“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,” she said in a statement.
Ivanka, who is a former model, launched a jewelry line in 2007, before branching out into shoes, handbags and ultimately clothes.
In 2016, the year that she was hitting the campaign trail hard on her father’s behalf, the company expanded into denim, activewear and baby bedding.
But in 2017, the brand ended talks on a distribution deal with Sanei International to bring the brand to Japan, which insiders attributed to ethics recommendations and an attempt to avoid any appearance of conflict of interest.
Ivanka named Klem president of the label when she stepped away that same year.
Neil Saunders, managing director of GlobalData Retail, said the closure reflected the lack of time Trump devoted to a label seen as an extension of her personal brand, and the political challenges that the company faced.
“Views on the brand have become highly polarized and it has become a lightning rod for protests and boycotts,” he said, though he did not rule out a comeback.
“While the brand will disappear in the short term, the copyrights and intellectual property will be retained. This means a future relaunch is possible,” he said.