Ivanka Trump to end fine jewellery line, focus on mass market

The Ivanka Trump brand is discontinuing its line of high-end bracelets, necklaces and rings (left) to focus on its affordable fashion jewellery range.
The Ivanka Trump brand is discontinuing its line of high-end bracelets, necklaces and rings to focus on its affordable fashion jewellery range.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

NEW YORK • Over the past few weeks, it seemed like Neiman Marcus could not make up its mind about whether to sell Ms Ivanka Trump's fine jewellery.

The brand's baubles disappeared, reappeared and then disappeared again from the department store's website. But now, Neiman Marcus will not have much of a choice.

Ms Trump's brand has discontinued its line of high-end bracelets, necklaces and rings - which sold for several thousand dollars apiece - the company confirmed this week. Instead, it will focus on more affordable fashion jewellery, according to Ms Abigail Klem, president of Ms Trump's brand.

Ms Klem attributed the decision to the company's "commitment to offering solution-oriented products at accessible price points".

She did not mention Neiman Marcus or any of the other retailers that had recently backed away from carrying Ms Trump's increasingly politicised products.

The decision to discontinue the fine jewellery line was reported last week by Vanity Fair.

The brand's shoes, handbags and clothing lines have become targets for both supporters and detractors of her father, United States President Donald Trump, in his political rise to the White House.

Many shoppers have rallied behind Grab Your Wallet, a largely grassroots movement to boycott companies associated with the Trump name. Some companies, such as Nordstrom and T.J. Maxx, have pulled back from promoting Ms Trump's brand.

After the Nordstrom decision, the President and one of his top advisers, Ms Kellyanne Conway, spoke out in support of the brand.

"Go buy Ivanka's stuff is what I would say," Ms Conway said last month during an interview on Fox News. "I'm going to give a free commercial here: Go buy it today, everybody. You can find it online."

Representatives for Ms Trump have said overall sales of her products rose 21 per cent in 2016 compared with 2015. Ms Klem said February this year saw some of the "best performing weeks in the history of the brand".

In January, for instance, the first daughter's fashion line ranked No. 550 based on the number of orders from Lyst, the biggest fashion e-commerce website in the world, according to Forbes.

That changed dramatically the following month. Sales of the products skyrocketed in early February, making her Lyst's 11th most popular brand. The biggest spike, according to Lyst, came on Feb 9, when Ms Conway made her comments and sales jumped by 219 per cent from the day before.

Ms Trump licenses her name to various partners who manufacture her products. The largest share of her revenue comes from sales of clothing, followed by shoes and handbags. Fine jewellery has always made up a small percentage of her overall business, according to company documents and interviews with former employees.

Jewellery, however, was her first major foray into licensing her name. She partnered Mr Moshe Lax, a New York-based diamond wholesaler, who helped her open a retail location on the Upper East Side of Manhattan in 2007.

In 2011, the boutique moved to a sprawling store in the SoHo neighbourhood. That location, however, was not profitable enough to stay open. It closed in 2015.

More recently, Ms Trump's fine jewellery has been sold out of a kiosk in the lobby of Trump Tower in Midtown Manhattan.

Late last year, Lord & Taylor began selling her fashion jewellery, which is the product of a new licensing partnership, according to a spokesman for the brand.

Unlike her diamond-encrusted fine jewellery, items in the fashion jewellery line are aimed at the mass market, with many items priced at less than US$100 (S$141).

The company projected to make about US$300,000 in royalty fees last year, according to company documents from 2014 that were obtained by The New York Times. Sales were expected to reach about US$7.5 million last year.

When journalists received a "style alert" from Ivanka Trump Fine Jewelry, critics pounced on Ms Trump, accusing her of using her proximity to the White House to promote her brand.

Ms Klem blamed a "well-intentioned marketing employee" for the mishap, saying the company was still figuring out how to move forward appropriately post-election.

Ms Trump still maintains a financial interest in her namesake brand. But since the election, she has taken steps to distance herself from her business interests.

She has stepped away from leadership positions at both her brand and at the Trump Organization, where she served as an executive vice-president for development and acquisitions.

NYTIMES, WASHINGTON POST

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 16, 2017, with the headline 'Ivanka Trump to end fine jewellery line, focus on mass market'. Print Edition | Subscribe