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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 19 November 2018

Why fashion doesn’t care that Ivanka Trump has shut her clothing label

The daughter of the US President has closed down her brand, and no one is really bothered

Ivanka Trump. AFP
Ivanka Trump. AFP

Fashion and politics is always an explosive mix – just think of the new season Dior collection inspired by the French student riots of 1969, or the Pussy Hat protests at US President Donald Trump’s inauguration.

So perhaps, in retrospect, trying to run an eponymous fashion label while being an "adviser" to the White House was never going to end well for Ivanka Trump.

Ivanka launched her self-titled fashion label in 2011, aimed at the mid-price market. The brand enjoyed enough success that by 2016 as it announced a profit of US$47 million (Dh172.6 million). Since then, however, sales have faltered, largely since Ivanka herself stepped back from the running of the company in January 2017, declaring that she needed more time to devote to being an adviser to her father.

Ivanka Trump clothes on sale. REUTERS
Ivanka Trump clothes on sale. Reuters

And therein lies the problem. By aligning herself so closely to her father's presidency, Ivanka has become entangled in his erratic leadership style. As The Donald has careened from one mismanaged crisis to another, amid Twitter storms, bungled meetings and cruel immigration policies - not to mention sexual assaults, fake news, alternative facts, and secret payments - so the Trump name has taken a bit of a hit in the space of 18 months. As the president reels from one political disaster to the next, customers it seems have voted with their wallets, and are no longer prepared to buy his daughter's clothes.

Both Nordstrom and Hudson's Bay stopped stocking the label, claiming falling sales, while T.J.Maxx removed all signage for Ivanka Trump clothes, and Sears ditched the label from its bricks-and-mortar stores, relegating it to online-only. In 2017, the licensing company G-111, perhaps realising the Ivanka Trump label was becoming unsaleable, renamed and rebranded it as Adrienne Vittadini, and dumped it at the discount store Stein Mart, without even bothering to consult the brand or Ivanka herself.

A marked down shirt by Ivanka Trump at a bargain store in Canada. REUTERS
A marked-down shirt by Ivanka Trump at a bargain store in Canada. Reuters

Now she has announced that she is shutting the brand that carries her name, to focus on her as-yet-undefined role at the White House, without mentioning flagging customer interest and collapsing sales.

A post shared by Ivanka Trump (@ivankatrump) on

The fashion industry is undergoing something of an epiphany these days, embracing a new, inclusive era. Labels such as Christian Siriano are championing fuller figures on its runways, while Gucci is making awkward, geeky teenagers into stars - so there is a new mood of open arms and open minds.

With diversity no longer just a buzzword, but a new prism through which to view the world, models of every age, nationality and skin tone are gracing magazines, runway shows and advertisement campaigns around the world, meaning that any fashion label wishing to remain relevant now has to align itself with this new methodology or simply get left behind.

With a name ensnared with the chaotic reign of her father, Ivanka is now having to face the fact that, to the modern customer, her brand is as outdated as her father's thinking. Especially in today's fashion lexicon, bigotry and bullying are no longer en vogue.

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