Ivanka Trump is shutting down her namesake fashion brand, more than a year after she formally separated herself from the company and became a White House senior adviser.
The ethics guidelines it had to follow in order to avoid conflicts of interest stunted the company's ability to grow, according to a spokesperson for the brand. "The brand wasn’t meant to tread water, it was meant to grow," the spokesperson told Refinery29.
The brand's 18 employees will be laid off and are receiving severances, said the spokesperson.
The growing controversy revolving around Ivanka's work on "hire American" workforce initiatives while her clothing is produced in Indonesia, Vietnam, Bangladesh, and Ethiopia, has surely added fuel to the fire. Additionally, while her sales have reportedly been strong and she opened up a new store in Trump tower at the end of 2017, retailers including Nordstrom and Hudson's Bay have recently dropped the line, citing disappointing performance.
"We are incredibly proud of the brand we have built and the content and product we've developed for our customers," Abigail Klem, the brand's president, said in a statement provided to Refinery29. "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."
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.
"I know that this was a very difficult decision for Ivanka, and I am very grateful for the opportunity to have led such a talented and committed team," Klem continued. "When faced with the most unique circumstances, the team displayed strength and optimism. From the initial launch of the brand in 2014 to the recent expansion of direct-to-consumer capabilities on our website, I am thankful to the team for the great work they have done and to our outstanding partners who so diligently executed our brand vision."
In a statement provided to Refinery29, Ivanka Trump said: "When we first started this brand, no one could have predicted the success that we would achieve. 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." Ivanka has been working on a paid family leave bill with Sen. Marco Rubio and others, as well as on workforce development, specifically promotion of vocational education.
The spokesperson said the decision had nothing to do with the brand's performance, but rather with Ivanka's decision to focus on her work in the White House. She said the company will continue to honor its licensing agreements and selling its products at Lord & Taylor, Bloomingdale's, Amazon, Zappos, and others.
She also said that any business endeavors Ivanka pursues in the future wouldn't be related to this brand. Ivanka has recently acquired several new trademarks in China for household items, paper products, and cosmetics, a move that her company has said is meant to protect her against those who want to illegally use the Ivanka Trump name. Attorneys will continue to protect the name, according to the spokesperson. "She will continue to file trademark application to protect others from exploiting it," she said.
G-III, the apparel group that manufactures Ivanka's brand, reported that net sales increased by $17.9 million during the year ending on January 31, 2017. The brand says revenues rose by 21% in 2016. According to e-commerce site Lyst, sales surged by over 700% in February 2017, compared to February 2016 — but significantly dropped off in the months after. But because the brand is privately held, it is not required to disclose this information. According to the spokesperson, Ivanka also received several lucrative offers to sell the brand before resigning from it, but chose not to take them.