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Before Donald Trump landed in the White House, one of the ways the real estate mogul made money was by licensing his name to sell ties, cologne, underwear, and other consumer goods. According to the Washington Post, that business has shrunk considerably.
Three years ago, there were as many as 19 companies making Trump-branded merchandise. Today, only two — one in Panama and one in Turkey — are producing Trump products.
Trump began licensing his name in 2004; by 2009, the Trump brand was bringing in $215 million in sales worldwide. The Post reports that as of 2015, licensees were paying Trump $2.4 million a year to slap his name onto items as wide-ranging as suits and urine tests.
Trump reported in his 2017 financial disclosure that he had received just $370,000 from licensing deals that year. The Post reports this is because the majority of products are no longer being produced. Trump ties are not in production anymore; nor are Trump pillows, shoes, eyeglasses, mattresses, or chandeliers.
Some Trump licensing partners told the Post their agreements had merely expired, while others cited it as a “business decision,” explaining that the merchandise wasn’t selling. Previously, licensees that cut ties with Trump were more forthcoming about why they were backing away from the president.
In July 2015, after Trump labeled Mexican immigrants “killers and rapists,” Macy’s announced it would drop his menswear collection, which it had been selling since 2004, calling Trump’s remarks “inconsistent with Macy’s values.” This move cost Trump his relationship with Phillips-Van Heusen, the first company to license Trump’s name and sell his clothing, and which in some years had paid him more than $1 million.
Other partners like Peerless (Trump suits) and Parlux (Trump colognes) also cut ties with Trump following Macy’s action. As Marshall Cohen from NPD Group told the Post, Trump built a wall that’s “more around his merchandise than it was around Mexico.”
Similarly, Trump’s home decor line was pulled from more than 160 home goods stores in the Middle East in December 2015, after the then-candidate refused to back down from his call to ban all Muslims from entering the United States.
It appears as though there are only two licensing deals still intact: one for linens (produced in Panama) and the other for furniture (produced in Turkey). Items like Trump cologne and deodorant that are not being produced but are still available for sale are now massively discounted.
For licensing partners, Trump’s image is no longer that of a wealthy real estate tycoon but rather a volatile and divisive political figure. Their decision to exit agreements with Trump is both more important than and also a direct result of stores like Nordstrom and Macy’s dropping Trump products. With licensing companies halting the production of merchandise, retailers now do not even have a decision to make when it comes to stocking the Trump brand.