In the Trump family tradition, Ivanka uses her moment in the spotlight to hawk her wares

Ivanka Trump takes the stage during the final day of the 2016 Republican National Convention at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland.
(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

Those Trumps never miss the chance to sell their merchandise.

Friday morning, on the heels of her well-received speech at the Republican National Convention, prospective first daughter Ivanka Trump showed just how much she takes after her father: Her official Twitter account tweeted, “Shop Ivanka’s look from her #RNC speech” to her 1.97 million followers, and a link to a Macy’s page that featured the polyester-and-spandex “sleeveless studded sheath dress” from her eponymous fashion line.

The tweet must have worked; the $158 dress, which was made abroad, sold out.

First lady Michelle Obama, another fashion plate, also has the power to move merchandise. Known for her eclectic tastes — from unsung American designers to J. Crew — she does not personally profit from the trends she sparks.


It’s different with the Trumps.

Over the course of his campaign, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has introduced us to Trump ties and Trump steaks, Trump wine and Trump vodka. Donald Trump promotes his real estate holdings by scheduling news conferences at his various properties: Trump Tower, Trump International Golf Links in Scotland (where he opined that Brexit would be good for business. Well, his business.)

Last March, at the Trump National Golf Club in Jupiter, Fla., he showed reporters a table piled high with what one journalist called “a veritable Trump-ucopia” of Trump merchandise. “I mean, what’s wrong with selling?” asked Trump.


The merchandising of the Trump name would probably not even be all that remarkable, given that the billionaire developer/reality TV star has been on a lifelong mission to plaster his name on as much stuff as possible.

But he has left himself open to charges of hypocrisy because a good deal of his clothing line is manufactured overseas.

On the campaign trail, he has promised repeatedly that he will restore American manufacturing to its glory days by curtailing outsourcing to foreign countries, especially China. He has frequently accused China of manipulating its currency to make its exports more attractive, which has, in Trump’s view, undermined American manufacturing.

Turns out much of Ivanka’s line is also made overseas, including the convention dress, described on the Macy’s website as “imported,” but it’s not clear where. Macy’s has not yet answered my query.


Last March, in a column on the PBS website, Harvard economic Robert Lawrence wrote that he had analyzed the Donald Trump and Ivanka Trump fashion lines, which were available on the official Trump website. Lawrence determined that “of the 838 Ivanka products advertised through the site, none appear to be made exclusively in the U.S.; 628 are said to be imported and 354 made specifically in China.”

(Links on Ivanka’s current style website redirect customers to Macy’s for purchases.)

Lawrence was moved to investigate after Florida Sen. Marco Rubio tweaked Trump during a debate for his foreign-made ties.


Turned out that Trump’s sports coats, cufflinks and eyeglass frames were also made in China. Some of his shirts were made in Bangladesh.

Lawrence, like most economists, was unbothered; international trade is good for the U.S., and Americans want to spend less on things.

“But how,” he asked, “do you reconcile a business model based on importing with professions of deep belief that manufacturing should be brought back to America?”

As a former fashion editor, I hope you will indulge me for a moment. Ivanka’s dress was pretty, but it did not look especially well made, or expensive. She is a former fashion model, and can carry off just about any look. But under the glare of the lights, one could see that the side seams pulled, and the dress was looser in the bodice than a tailored dress would be.


By contrast, Melania Trump’s body-skimming white dress, which also immediately sold out on the upscale fashion website Net-a-Porter, fit the way a $2,200 garment should.

Then again, Melania wasn’t selling anything but her husband.



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