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In February 2017 companies like Nordstrom, Belk, and Neiman Marcus dropped the Ivanka Trump fashion line — pointing to sales as the reason for their decision without acknowledging a very public Trump family boycott. The national discussion around which brands carry the label has all but quieted down. Now, more than a year later, the footwear giant DSW may reignite it.
A DSW employee on the vendor relations and inventory control team at the company’s headquarters in Columbus, Ohio, said that the national shoe chain has ended its partnership with Ivanka Trump shoes, according to an email sent to a California shopper, which was obtained by Racked.
“The last order placed for this brand was early 2017 and there are no future orders placed, so yes, no longer carrying the line,” the vendor specialist wrote in an email on May 31.
Organizers of the Trump boycott #GrabYourWallet have been diligently tracking which retailers are stocking Trump products and how many items they carry. As of January 2017, DSW was carrying 67 different pairs of Ivanka Trump shoes. That number has steadily declined. The website is now down to two shoe styles, both of which have been discounted.
When reached for comment, the Ivanka Trump brand denied that DSW is dropping its brand. DSW did not respond to a request for comment.
Shoes have always been an integral part of the Ivanka Trump business, one that Ivanka herself has called “incredibly important.” For retailers, it’s the category that’s stocked most frequently, at companies like Bloomingdale’s, Gilt, and Zappos.
It’s also had its fair share of controversies. The Ivanka Trump label and its licensee Marc Fisher was sued by Aquazzura in June 2016 after the luxury Italian label alleged that the Ivanka Trump Hettie shoe was “virtually identical” to Aquazzura’s Wild Thing sandal. (Although Aquazzura and the brand settled the suit privately in November 2017, the Ivanka Trump label still makes apparent fashion dupes, like its version of Chanel’s popular two-toned slingback.)
Last summer, the Ivanka Trump footwear line also made headlines after undercover activists from China Labor Watch, who were investigating the Chinese Huajian Group factory that made Ivanka Trump shoes, were detained by the Chinese government. The activists were looking into the factory’s “low pay, excessive overtime, and possible misuse of student labor” before they were detained, and the labor rights group wrote a four-page letter to Ivanka directly asking for her help in getting the activists freed.
(They were eventually freed, and the brand defended itself, with brand president Abigail Klem telling Racked that Marc Fisher had stopped working with the factory because “our licensee works with many footwear production factories and all factories are required to operate within strict social compliance regulations.”)
The Ivanka Trump label has been through plenty of ups and downs since Donald Trump jumped into politics. It was one of the brands that were the focus of the #GrabYourWallet boycott, which began after that infamous Access Hollywood tape was released.
Stores have responded to the boycott in different ways: Nordstrom told Racked that its decision to drop the brand was based on sales and performance, and did not mention politics, while Macy’s, which dropped its Donald Trump menswear collection after Trump called Mexican immigrants killers and rapists, said the move was because his remarks were “inconsistent with Macy’s values.” Meanwhile, Trump supporters staged boycotts of their own, cutting up their Nordstrom credit cards, and sales of Ivanka’s perfume soared on Amazon.
Ivanka Trump the person has tried to distance herself from Ivanka Trump the business; she officially stepped down from her position at the brand in January 2017, but she still benefits financially; according to the New York Times, she made $6 million off her brand from 2016 to 2017.
The brand has also tried to pull itself away from the drama of getting stocked and dropped by going direct to consumer. It launched e-commerce last September, beginning with selling handbags on its website, and it has since expanded into clothes. It also opened its first store in the lobby of New York City’s Trump Tower.
For most fashion labels, though, wholesale partners are what help bolster sales. DSW has some 500 locations across the country and about $2.5 billion in annual sales. Losing such a partnership would no doubt have an effect on the Ivanka Trump business. Then again, it might also end up being just fine, considering the brand just scored several new Chinese trademarks around the same time as her father is dealing with broader trade negotiations with China.
Update: Friday, June 1, 2018, 12:50 p.m.
This piece has been updated to include a statement from the Ivanka Trump brand.