Is Ivanka Trump a “Walking Billboard” for Her Own Clothing Brand?


Surprise: Ivanka Trump loves to wear her own brand. Per an investigation by The Wall Street Journal published Wednesday, the White House adviser has worn her own clothes to the majority of her public appearances since she assumed her formal White House role earlier this year.

Trump no longer appears in advertisements for her clothes, but this doesn’t mean the public doesn’t see her in them. The Journal looked at social-media photos of Trump between March 29—when Trump became an official White House adviser—and October, and found that Trump wore her own brand in 46 of the 68 photos.

“Ivanka Trump is testing the boundaries on federal rules that bar government employees from using their position to promote brands that personally enrich them,” Guian McKee, associate professor in presidential studies at the University of Virginia’s Miller Center, told the Journal.

When her father became president, Trump announced that she would step downfrom her roles at both the Trump Organization and her eponymous fashion brand. As the Journal noted, Trump put her company, I.T. Collection LLC, in a trust run by her brother-in-law Josh Kushner and sister-in-law Nicole Meyer when she stepped into the White House. This means Trump doesn’t technically have anything to do with its operations currently, except for the fact that she still makes a multi-million-dollar income from the brand each year—per Trump’s federal filing, she took in between $1 and $5 million from March through July 2017.

But while Trump is still raking in the big bucks, 2017 hasn’t exactly been a successful year for her brand. In February, several big-name department stores, like Nordstrom, dropped the clothing line and told Racked that their decision had been based on low sales. The Journal remarked that though online sales have dropped 50 percent compared to October 2016, this only paints a “partial picture”; the brand is still available at department and discount stores.

Wendy Liebmann, chief executive of WSL Strategic Retail, told the Journal that seeing Trump in her own clothes probably does not present a conflict for many potential buyers, especially those who are not fans of the Trump administration or Ivanka Trump to begin with. “For those people who see her as someone to look up to and who like her style, then wearing her clothes helps the brand,” she said. “If you don’t like her, you’re not going to buy her clothes, whether she wears them or not.”

To that end, Trump herself seems to agree. In an e-mail statement to the Journal,she stated that her White House role has nothing to do with the promotion of the brand.

“If what motivated me was to grow my businesses and make money, I would have stayed in New York and done just that,” she wrote.