Ivanka Trump says she is shutting down her namesake clothing brand because of her focus on her work in Washington — a rare move by a Trump family member to choose between politics and business.
The president's daughter and White House senior adviser said her "focus for the foreseeable future will be the work I am doing here in Washington," and called the company's closure "the only fair outcome for my team and partners." Trump handed over day-to-day operations after her father won the election but continued to own the company, which raised ethical concerns, experts said.
The company, based in New York's Trump Tower, had been dropped by retailers such as Nordstrom due to flagging sales. Its dresses, shoes, and handbags — all of which were made in foreign countries such as China and Indonesia — also conflicted with her push for more jobs in the United States.
The closure comes as a surprise even within the company, which has 18 employees. As recently as last week, officials had been discussing the implementation of long-delayed oversight of its foreign factory partners.
Company chief Abigail Klem said last year she had been planning her first trip to tour some of the facilities that make Ivanka Trump products, and said the company would boost oversight of the treatment of its largely female workforce. The company never shared details of those initiatives.
Trump's brand of affordable fashion for young professional women became a polarizing political statement, bought in solidarity by Trump supporters and boycotted vigorously by others.
"Views on the brand have become highly polarized, and it has become a lightning rod for protests and boycotts," said Neil Saunders, managing director of GlobalData Retail. "While the company is still viable, doing business has become far more challenging, and these problems will only increase."
Trump will retain the copyrights and intellectual property associated with her brand, which analysts say leaves the door open for relaunches.
The announcement comes less than two weeks after Canadian department store chain Hudson's Bay Co. said it would remove all Ivanka Trump products from its website and 90 stores because of the brand's "performance."
A number of national retailers, including Lord & Taylor, Dillards, Bloomingdale's, and Amazon.com currently carry the first daughter's line and will continue to do so until their agreements run out.
Trump started her fine-jewelry line in 2007 and expanded to shoes, clothing, and eye wear. In December, she opened a store in the lobby of Manhattan's Trump Tower, where, she said, she hoped to sell handbags, jewelry, and candles directly to consumers, raising concerns among some ethics experts, who said it was yet another way for the Trump family to tap into the wallets of its supporters.
Ethics experts said the arrangement continued to raise a number of red flags a year and a half into the Trump presidency.
"Shutting down now is too little, too late," said Norman Eisen, who served as chief White House ethics lawyer under President Barack Obama. "She maintains a number of other business ties, including her trademarks in China, making this a profoundly conflicted role."
Ivanka Trump made more than $5 million from her fashion company between January 2016 and March 2017, according to financial disclosures released last year. She also received $3.9 million from her family's Washington hotel last year, according to government disclosure forms.
Other Trump-branded businesses, many of which Ivanka had a hand in growing and in which she still holds a financial stake, have experienced differing fortunes since Trump's presidency began last year. The company's name has come off hotels in Toronto, Panama, and New York's SoHo neighborhood, as well as from some residential buildings in New York.
While the Trump Hotel in Washington charges some of the highest rates in the city and has become a popular meeting place for Republican political groups, religious organizations, and businesses, data on other Trump properties including the Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida show signs of price drops as sports teams and charities move their business elsewhere.
Sales data on Trump-branded condominiums in New York City show them attracting lower prices than competing properties since Donald Trump entered office. Meanwhile, the Trump Organization's plans to dramatically expand its hotel portfolio in the United States have failed to progress, having opened no hotels under its announced Scion and American Idea brands.