First daughter Ivanka Trump is closing down her namesake clothing brand, and layoffs have begun, more than one year after she distanced herself from the company’s operations.
“When we first started this brand, no one could have predicted the success that we would achieve,” Trump said in a statement, according to the Hollywood Reporter. “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, so making this decision now is the only fair outcome for my team and partners.”
Company president Abigail Klem added, “We are incredibly proud of the brand we have built and the content and product we’ve developed for our customers. Our platform has become an indispensable resource for our loyal community of women. We’ve seen strong sales since the brand’s inception, which continued through this year with the successful launch of our rapidly growing e-commerce business.”
“It’s just never recovered since she stepped away from the company,” a source told Page Six of the company Trump launched in 2007, and other sources told the same site that the company will be shuttered “ASAP.” MarketWatch reported that Klem broke the news to her 18 employees Tuesday, while Trump herself is expected to speak to the staff later.
Since Trump accepted her role as assistant to the president, her fashion brand has been under attack. Per the Wall Street Journal, she often showcases her own designs — for example, between March and October 2017, she wore her brand in 46 of 68 photos posted to social media — and was often accused of being a “walking billboard.”
As Guian McKee, a professor of presidential studies at the University of Virginia, told the Journal, “Ivanka Trump is testing the boundaries on federal rules that bar government employees from using their position to promote brands that personally enrich them.”
The clothing brand was categorized as unpatriotic for not making the majority of its clothes in America and for using a Chinese factory that severely underpaid its workers, only offering them about $60 a week. As NBC News reports, the unnamed factory produces multiple fashion brands, not limited to that of Trump.
Social media was upset that the company did not offer maternity leave to its employees, according to a claim by former worker Marissa Velex Kraxberger in a 2016 Facebook post. Klem has since clarified that the brand has offered maternity leave since 2017, saying the “business was new” during Velex Kraxberger’s tenure.
In 2017, counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway was admonished for promoting Trump’s brand on television — and possibly violating rules set by the Office of Government Ethics — when she told Fox & Friends, “It’s a wonderful line. I own some of it. I fully — I’m going to give a free commercial here. Go buy it today, everybody. You can find it online.” According to Politico, Conway had “been counseled on that subject, and that’s it.”
Trump’s brand also landed on the #GrabYourWallet list, a movement aimed at discouraging business for companies affiliated with the first family. Due in part to the list, Trump’s clothing has been pulled from various department stores such as Neiman Marcus, Jet.com, Nordstrom, DSW, and most recently Canadian store Hudson’s Bay.
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