Ivanka Trump, President Donald Trump’s eldest daughter and a top White House adviser, is shutting down her namesake fashion brand more than a year after stepping away from the company.
A spokesman for Ivanka Trump’s brand confirmed Tuesday that the process of winding down the company would begin immediately, that the brand’s licensing deals would not be renewed and that employees would depart in the coming weeks.
“After 17 months in Washington, I do not know when or if I will ever return to the business, but I do know that my focus for the foreseeable future will be the work I am doing here in Washington, so making this decision now is the only fair outcome for my team and partners,” Trump said in a statement.
Since Donald Trump won the presidential election in 2016, members of his family have faced continuing criticism that they are exploiting his position to promote their own personal interests.
Ivanka Trump has been a particular target of that criticism and resigned from the day-to-day operations of the company last year, partly to try to address concerns that her role as a presidential adviser created conflicts of interest.
Although Trump took steps to separate herself from the company’s management, she retained a financial interest in the business through a trust. Her financial disclosures filings show that she earned more than $5 million from that entity last year.
The trust arrangement also called for Trump to approve major decisions made by the company, including striking new licensing partnerships and overseas deals. The provision prompted questions about whether Trump had put enough distance between herself and her financial interests.
In a statement Tuesday, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics, a Washington group that has been especially vocal in expressing concern about the Trump family’s blurring of business interests and government work, offered muted approval for Trump’s move.
“While this is a notable step in the right direction, it’s a small one that comes much too late,” the statement said, adding that Trump had “reportedly realized that there were too many potential conflicts of interest to avoid, something many observers warned about from the beginning.”
The Ivanka Trump brand has been marketed to young women in the form of modestly priced handbags, shoes and dresses, and sold in major department stores including Macy’s, Nordstrom and T.J. Maxx. A licensing deal with the global clothing giant G-III gave Trump’s company added resources and extended its reach.
The company’s headquarters were originally in Trump Tower in Manhattan, and Trump initially relied on human resources, technology and legal support from her father’s real estate company to get started. In later years, though, she aspired to turn her label into a full-fledged lifestyle brand, enlisting executives from major fashion companies to help.
The group came up with a slogan, “Women Who Work,” and moved the headquarters out of Trump Tower. Yet the company was still mostly a licensing business, making deals with manufacturers who paid for the use of the Ivanka Trump name.
Almost since the moment that Trump arrived in Washington, there were questions about whether she and her father’s advisers might be using her new prominence to advance her personal business interests.
Shortly after the election, for example, people working on behalf of Trump’s brand promoted a $10,800 bracelet she wore during an interview broadcast on CBS’ “60 Minutes,” prompting accusations that the Trump family planned to treat the White House as something like the cable shopping network QVC.
And when Nordstrom decided to stop carrying Trump’s products because of a public backlash over actions and positions taken by her father’s administration, Kellyanne Conway, one of Trump’s top advisers, did a television interview from the White House briefing room during which she implored viewers to support the brand.
“Go buy Ivanka’s stuff is what I would say,” Conway said in the interview with Fox News. “I’m going to give a free commercial here: Go buy it today, everybody; you can find it online.”
The endorsement drew a sharp rebuke from ethics experts.