Is anyone still buying Ivanka Trump’s clothing brand? For many liberals, whose social feeds are filled with pink pussy hats and SNL clips, this would appear to be a fair question; it’s within their bubbles that the #GrabYourWallet boycott has been circulating — and with effect. In the past couple of weeks, Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus, Sears, Kmart, and T.J. Maxx have announced they are dropping the line, soliciting victory cheers across the internet, as well as a retaliatory tweet from Trump and a highly unethical TV plug from Kellyanne Conway. But headlines like “The Resistance: 1, Ivanka Trump: 0” don’t tell the whole story.
As Trump protesters purge their closets of Ivanka shoes and bags, vowing not to buy more of her products, many women who supported a Trump presidency are going in the opposite direction, showing their allegiance by rallying around his daughter’s business with #BuyIvanka. Even though Nordstrom says it was merely motivated by a dramatic decrease in sales, conservatives view the boycott as an unfair attack — and evidence that the left isn’t as pro-woman as it claims to be. The Ivanka Trump HQ Facebook page, which has over 93,000 followers, is now filled with comments from Trump supporters — mainly outside the brand’s target demographic of millennial women — who are purchasing items from the label for the first time in support. Laura, 37, of Cleveland, Ohio, is one of these women: “I made my first Ivanka Trump purchase yesterday on Lord & Taylor[‘s website],” she told the Cut. “Whether [Ivanka] came from an affluent background or not, she’s still a successful business woman and we shouldn’t take that away from her.”
The counter argument is that Ivanka is hardly an innocent bystander being sucked into her father’s orbit. She actively campaigned for Trump, was present at his meetings with world leaders, and has been more visible during his first few weeks in office than the First Lady. Ivanka may or may not share all of her father’s views, but she has attached herself to a controversial administration and taken an active role, one that goes far beyond what would typically be expected of a president’s daughter or son. But Republicans — 83 percent of who think Trump is doing a good job — don’t quite see it that way, and they are putting their money where their frustration is.
Here’s the thing, though: Many of these new Ivanka buyers are far from the image of the young, upwardly mobile women the brand projects on its website and social-media feeds. The company’s Facebook cover image (below), features a 20-something model who seems to be very much a reflection of Ivanka herself. And it’s a theme that carries through to other marketing materials, from the perfectly blown-out blonde deep in thought in a Manhattan high-rise on the company’s website, to the also Ivanka-esque models in the brand’s “Work to Play” spots (like this one that shows a young woman reading … spreadsheets? Blueprints? Is she an architect? Does she not have a desk?). The overall vibe of the brand is very busy-young-women-on-the-move and yet, many of the women rallying around Ivanka are older — some retired, some grandmothers.
This contrast is striking on the brand’s Facebook page, where the majority of recent commenters more closely resemble President’s Trump voting demographic. Yes, 52 percent of white women who voted cast their ballots for Trump in November — and the women supporting Ivanka now are mostly white, too. But there’s also the age factor: Just 36 percent of voters 18 to 34 helped put Trump in office, according to exit polls. And when looking at how all women — not just white women — voted last fall, the percentage of Trump supporters drops to 41. No wonder, then, that the women joining forces in retail solidarity don’t exactly fit the brand’s intended market.
“I am placing [an] order today. I hate people telling me who I can buy from. I usually go against it,” Debby, a retiree in Pacifica, California, wrote on the Ivanka brand’s Facebook page. The comment appears under a quote posted by Ivanka’s brand that says, “Never ever settle.” It was shared 2,000 times, and most of the 122 comments are women telling Ivanka to stay strong — or ditch the chain stores altogether and sell directly online. Some even offer business advice. Marybeth, pictured with her husband of 23 years and their grown children, writes: “I would find a competitor and rework to sell your line. You have a classic, elegant look that women want to replicate. You are a role model as a wife, mother, businesswoman, and you have character. I applaud and admire you!”
Terry, 60, of Hobe Sound, Florida, told the Cut she’s disappointed that Nordstrom “would stoop to pulling a very high-class, high-profile person’s line because her dad just happens to be president of the United States and is doing what he believes will keep our country safe. I personally agree with him, as do the majority of my friends and family.”
Like other supporters, she says she plans to buy Ivanka’s products where they’re available, which for now includes chains like Macy’s, Lord & Taylor, and Bloomingdales. Although not previously a customer, she plans to purchase a pair of shoes “to show my support for Ivanka Trump’s line.” “I love her and think she is beautiful and a true class act,” she says. One place Terry says she will not be shopping: Nordstrom. “I live just north of one in our area and I will never shop there again,” she says.
Other Trump fans have also begun to boycott the retailers no longer carrying Ivanka’s line. “I will never shop at these stores again,” writes Virginia, who describes herself as “happily retired” on her profile. “I am okay with lines being dropped for nonperformance, but this is a hatchet job. Let the record show what impact these unforgivable decisions will have on their bottom line.”
There are also women like Michelle, 53, of Arlington, Virginia, who was an Ivanka customer before the election — and plans to continue to be one, especially now. As a mother and grandmother, she admires Ivanka and sees her look reflected in the brand’s designs, which is a big plus. “I absolutely think that Ivanka’s look comes off in the clothes,” she told the Cut. “They are really fun. They are classy. A lot of them have that little bit of sexiness that’s not crossing over into inappropriate.” Though Ivanka comes from a privileged background, Michelle says she likes that she’s “not a Paris Hilton type,” but rather, “she is a business woman who is still a mom … I follow her on the social-media sites, and it’s always really positive and empowering. I don’t see her responding to the negativity.”
Michelle recently posted about Ivanka on Facebook, joining the surge of Trump supporters who want the President’s daughter to know they’re on her side. The two movements –#GrabYourWallet and #BuyIvanka —are now at odds with each other, each gaining momentum as Trump fans gobble up Ivanka items wherever they can find them (including eBay), while boycotters keep pushing for a ban of remaining retailers who carry the line. The left has already proven it can make an impact; Nordstrom spokeswoman Tara Darrow told The Cut the company is “not providing sales numbers,” but the Wall Street Journal reports that the retail chain experienced a 32 percent drop in sales of Ivanka’s fashion line in 2016, with a 70 percent drop throughout October—the same month the infamous Access Hollywood tape was released and the #GrabYourWallet initiative took off.
The Ivanka Trump brand refutes claims that the company is in trouble. In an email to The Cut, a company spokeswoman wrote that it “experienced a double-digit growth in revenue last year,” and has “expanded our categories, distribution and offerings with plans to continue this growth in 2017.” In response to the current controversy surrounding the brand, company representatives wrote: “In recent days, we’ve seen our brand swept into the political fray, becoming collateral damage in others’ efforts to advance agendas unrelated to what we do, which is produce accessible, solution-oriented products for our loyal customers.”
What remains to be seen is whether the Trump faithful with rally with similar results, punishing stores that no longer carry the brand and/or throwing their money at the retailers still carrying it. So far, Nordstrom isn’t feeling much heat: After the president’s tweet, the company saw its stock rise 7 percent, according to CNN Money. With companies like Macy’s under pressure to drop Ivanka now too, team #BuyIvanka may need to throw their weight — and more accurately, their wallets — to keep the dominos from falling.