In 2007, when she launched her first high-end jewelry line, Ivanka Trump made the decision to hang her hat on her family name—not calling it simply Ivanka, but the Ivanka Trump Collection. Six years later, her brand comprises clothing, handbags, jewelry and most notably shoes, together selling nearly a quarter of a billion dollars at retail in 2013, successfully finding a niche in sophisticated yet approachable and reasonably priced clothing and accessories for working women.
As a privately held company, more recent sales figures of Ivanka's lines are not publicly available, but one can safely assume the numbers have only grown since 2013—in the past couple of years, it seems like her shoes in particular are everywhere. Macy's might have cut ties with Donald Trump in 2015 over his comments about Mexican immigrants, but the department store is still happy to do business with the younger Trump, as are Nordstrom and Bloomingdale's, not to mention hundreds of independent retailers.
And why not? You'd be hard-pressed to find someone who doesn't like Ivanka. She was born to privilege and beauty, but passed on the life of a model and socialite to get an economics degree (cum laude) from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and work for her father (she's executive vice president of acquisitions and development at the Trump Organization) in addition to launching her own brand. She's poised yet relatable, and especially since much of her social media persona plays up her role as a working mom. Even her dad's comments give her a certain relate-ability.
"Who hasn’t been mortified by a parent at some point?” Linda Ong of branding consultant TruthCo. told TheWrap in 2015. In March, brand specialist Rob Frankel told the Chicago Tribune that it would take a lot more than a few gaffes from Donald to tank Ivanka's personal brand: "Remember: Martha Stewart was thrown in jail, and that was not the end of Martha Stewart."
Ivanka thus far has masterfully played her role as the proud candidate's daughter, vouching for his character (she defended him as a supporter of talented women in a recent interview with Town & Country) while avoiding making any political stances of her own. But the carefully manicured wall she's built between her personal fashion empire and her role in her father's campaign is showing signs of distress.
The Trump children, including both Ivanka and her husband Jared Kushner, are increasingly visible advisors in the campaign. In June they were widely credited with getting Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski fired. Combine her role as a Trump campaign surrogate with new polls showing her father 17 points behind Hillary Clinton with women, and it's hard not to wonder if her clientele—women—will be put off by her last name.
I conducted an informal poll on Facebook, and the opinions were passionate and varied, as all discussions on shoes tend to be. A few friends swore by the Ivanka Trump brand as comfortable and fashionable, a combination that would earn their shoe dollars no matter her name. Some grumbled more about the price vs. quality than the branding. (Not specifically mentioned was the recent lawsuit filed against her by Aquazzura for copying the Italian brand's design.) Others expressed a vague distaste for the Trump name, often comparing buying Ivanka Trump shoes to buying shoes from Jessica Simpson. Which is not to say they wouldn't buy them, necessarily.
"If Ivanka made some chic, reasonably priced shoes, yeah, I'd probably be down. And yeah, I hate myself for it," said one friend. I'm no particular fan of J.Simp, but I'd be lying if I said I didn't own a pair of her shoes, which bodes well for Ivanka. And while I won't be voting for her dad, I could see myself electing these beauties into my closet. Hey, if Jessica Simpson can turn her D-list celebrity into a $1 billion retail empire, imagine what Ivanka can do with the Trump Girls.