Has the once-popular brand become a political football?
Ivanka Trump’s once-popular fine jewelry brand seems to no longer be producing new product and might be phasing the business out, say retailers who carry the line.
“They are only selling what they have left,” says Harvey Rovinsky, president of Philadelphia-based Bernie Robbins Jewelers.
A spokesperson for Ivanka Trump’s company did not return inquiries from JCK.
The line, of course, grabbed headlines this week, when Nordstrom announced it would drop its Ivanka Trump product. (Neiman Marcus also reportedly dropped her jewelry line.) This triggered an angry tweet from her father, the POTUS:
My daughter Ivanka has been treated so unfairly by @Nordstrom. She is a great person — always pushing me to do the right thing! Terrible!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 8, 2017
White House press secretary Sean Spicer later called Nordstrom’s decision to drop the line an “attack on [the president’s] daughter.”
In many ways, the Ivanka Trump line has received publicity most brands would die for—its namesake is now one of the most famous people in the world. But retailers say the brand has been hurt by the first daughter’s decision to step away from her business. And in this polarized era, some want to avoid any association with politics. There is now not only the threat of possible boycotts for carrying the line, there’s the risk of a counterbacklash—and even a denunciation from the White House—for dropping it.
As Nordstrom copresident Pete Nordstrom put it in an email to employees, obtained by Fortune:
We’ve heard from customers, including some who are long time loyal customers, threatening a boycott of Nordstrom if we continue to carry the line. Similarly, we’ve heard from customers who say they will boycott Nordstrom if we stop carrying the brand. This is a sharply divisive subject. No matter what we do, we are going to end up disappointing some of our customers.
Ultimately, he concluded, “Every single brand we offer is evaluated on their results—if people don’t buy it, we won’t sell it.”
One former Ivanka Trump jeweler told JCK the brand initially did well but slowed down because of management changes and fewer new styles. Once her father began his presidential campaign, negative consumer comments increased, and the store pulled the plug.
Other retailers say that sales have slowed of late, but they don’t blame politics, more a lack of fresh product. They report few complaints.
David Cornell, president of Cornell Jewelers, in Rochester, N.Y., says he received only one angry postcard for carrying it—and when he spoke to other brand retailers, they got a note from the same person.
However, he adds: “If you are a business owner, it is prudent not to take sides.”
“Everything’s a lightning rod today,” moans Rovinsky. “You mention [Ivanka’s jewelry] to some people, they freak out. Other people, they want to hug you.”