Politics in Fashion: Ivanka Trump’s label dropped by Nordstrom

Following his presidential win, many shoppers have taken part in the #GrabYourWallet campaign in protest at the election results in order to boycott products with ties to President Trump, his family and his donors. Amongst the boycott, Nordstrom, one of America’s leading luxury chain stores, has decided to halt the sales of Ivanka Trump’s eponymous brand from its site.

However, a spokesman has stated that the reason for this pause is due to poor performance, which is not to be mistaken for the chain store taking a political position. “We’ve said all along we make buying decisions based on performance,” Nordstrom said in a statement. “In this case, based on the brand’s performance, we’ve decided not to buy it for this season,” referring to the spring. Further backing this claim, Racked, a fashion news site, reported on the 2nd February that there was a sharp decline of Ivanka Trump’s products on Nordstrom’s website.

On the 8th February President Trump publicly voiced his disapproval of Nordstrom’s decision to drop his daughter’s line. Some would view this as a huge conflict of interest which raises many ethical questions about Trump’s presidency and his many business interests. The President took to Twitter to complain that “Ivanka has been treated so unfairly” by the company. He first posted the message from his personal account, and then re-sent it from his official White House account.

The rebuke is not unique of its kind as Trump has already broken with tradition by singling out companies, such as Boeing, which has caused disturbances in their stock prices. President Trump’s disapproval also raised questions about how he will deal with executive decisions made by other companies as their relationships with Trump’s brands change over time.

“Mr. Trump has stated that the President is exempt from conflict of interest provisions in federal law”

Disagreeing with the claims of unethical conduct, Mr. Trump has stated that the President is exempt from conflict of interest provisions in federal law that prohibit other government officials from using their positions to benefit themselves or their family members financially. Even if his post was meant to intimidate Nordstrom or other retailers that still work with Ivanka, it probably does not violate conflict of interest rules but is still seen as quite inappropriate.

“It is a total misuse of presidential power,” said Lawrence M. Noble, the general counsel of the Campaign Legal Center. “He is really bringing to bear the whole weight of the office of President on a business decision. Take another company that is considering whether or not to drop her line — they obviously are going to ask themselves if they want to be attacked by the President.”

However, despite Nordstrom’s decision to stop carrying many of her products, Ivanka Trump’s brand plans to expand its footprint, with increased customer support. “The Ivanka Trump brand continues to expand across categories and distribution with increased customer support, leading us to experience significant year-over-year revenue growth in 2016,” Rosemary Young, senior director of marketing for Ivanka Trump, said in an e-mail. “We believe that the strength of a brand is measured not only by the profits it generates, but the integrity it maintains.”

This begs the question of the intention and impact of Trump’s Presidential influence and if it should remain independent to his family’s business ventures, as he is currently exempted by federal law. Will his recent immigration ban impact the American and international fashion economy, via consumer boycotts, and will this trend continue for his entire term in office? What will the future hold for America’s chain stores whose sales largely rely upon politically charged consumer choices?

Paasha Ahmed

Image Credit: Michael Vadon via Flickr – License.

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