People Are Still Buying Ivanka Trump Clothes Even As Her Dad’s Reputation Takes A Beating

Sales of Ivanka Trump's clothing line have kept on growing in 2016, and its maker is confident it can become a "$100 million-a-year business."

By: Leticia Miranda  Published: September 22, 2016


While Macy's pulled Donald Trump's menswear line from its stores over his comments about Mexican immigrants, the department store still stocks full racks of Ivanka Trump-brand dresses and shoes. And while a May poll showed Trump was hated more than lice, jury duty and root canals, demand for Ivanka's brands is still on the rise.

As Ivanka played a bigger role in her father's presidential campaign, media reports wondered if the 34-year-old model-turned-mogul's reputation would suffer. But not only has Ivanka's brand for "women who work" survived — it has kept on growing.

G-III Apparel Group, which manufactures Ivanka Trump's clothing line, reported that net sales of the brand to retailers in the first six months of 2016 increased by $11.8 million compared to its sales in the same time period in 2015. The group — which also produces clothes on behalf of brands like Calvin Klein, Karl Lagerfeld and Tommy Hilfiger — first launched its line licensing the Ivanka Trump name in mid-2014.
The company does not break out total sales numbers for the Ivanka Trump brand, and did not respond to requests for comment. "Ivanka Trump's brand is developing at an increasingly important and sustainable position in the marketplace," its CEO Morris Goldfarb told investors in September, 2015. "We expect the total brand to nearly double this year and we continue to think that this at a minimum is going to be $100 million brand for us."

Ivanka's brand, which aims to address "the needs of the modern professional woman," appears to have been relatively unscathed by Donald Trump's blistering rhetoric. Bloomingdales, which sells her shoes and dresses, even featured Ivanka in a recent Facebook ad.
Throughout her father's campaign, Ivanka has pushed back against criticism of his attitudes toward women. She defended him as a "feminist" after he made a slew of offensive remarks, including calling Megyn Kelly a "bimbo" and Arianna Huffington "extremely unattractive."
The campaign has often relied on her image as a powerful young professional mother to curry favor with women, just 28% of whom reported positive feelings about Donald Trump in an NBC News / Wall Street Journal poll this month. She introduced him at the Republican National Convention — in an Ivanka Trump-brand dress, of course. And last week, she appeared with her father to announce a child care policy that she had a heavy hand in developing.

Ivanka has tried to appear separate from her father by taking "a backseat on the more touchy subjects of her father's campaign," said Eva Valdebenito, the founder of fashion and beauty public relations boutique PR Girl Inc.

"At the end of the day there is a divide between Ivanka and her father," she said. "While people might be angry at her father, they don't share that anger towards her."

Ivanka Trump's brand declined to comment to BuzzFeed News. Marc Fisher Footwear and Madison Avenue Diamonds, which manufacture Ivanka's shoe and fine jewelry line, also did not respond. But Valdebenito and other public relations professionals told BuzzFeed News that Trump's campaign, while polarizing, may be a new example of the old adage that any publicity is good publicity. "It's really just about the math," said Tina Wilcox, CEO of the brand agency Black Retail, which represented Martha Stewart's brand as it expanded into stores including JCPenney in 2011, six years after she was released from prison."[Ivanka's] awareness scores, good or bad, have probably skyrocketed. With awareness you get a build in traffic. If you're driving more traffic into your store, some of that traffic is going to convert into sales," she told BuzzFeed News.

Politics was the last concern on some shopper's minds at they checkout out Ivanka's products at Bloomingdale's and Macy's stores in Manhattan. At Macy's, the Ivanka Trump dress racks were well stocked, and no items appeared to be on sale. At Bloomingdale's, her shoes were neatly spread on a table under a spotlight near the center of the shoe department."I like that [her shoes are] not flimsy," said a 59-year-old Macy's shopper who declined to give her name. "I'm a mature person and it has a nice style."She said she already owns a few of Ivanka Trump's heels. When asked if it matters that she is Donald Trump's daughter, the shopper said: "No, I couldn't care less."

Noni Colutta, a 25-year-old Brooklyn resident, stopped at a rack of Ivanka Trump floral fit and flare dresses in Macy's. She looked at the brand name and walked away in a huff. "I don't care how cute that dress is, I do not want to buy something that supports the worst candidate for president ever alive," she told BuzzFeed News. "I don't want to put money toward him and I don't want to wear anything from anyone who is associated, especially someone so close, with someone who has terrible values."

Much of the brand's success will rest on the preservation of Ivanka's image as a powerful business woman and mother, who can overcome hatred of her father with the grace that Valvedbenito said other women would want to replicate. "We've seen that multiple times even through the toughest scandals," she said. "It's always something, if the situation is sticky, if the woman can come out in a graceful manner. The world flocks to that. That's what's going on with Ivanka at the end of the day. To some degree the women who don't support her father can still admire the woman that she is."

Cool Offices: Black Retail's office is for clients, creatives and canines

Published: April 26, 2016

Black Retail wanted an inviting space for clients and employees when it opened its new office last summer.

The Minneapolis-based branding agency (incorporated as Black Design Inc.) provides retail companies with services ranging from advertising and marketing to store design.

The office, in the former warehouse building at 219 N. Second St., has a black and white color scheme to reflect Black Retail's brand with orange accents to add a pop of color.

The office's most unique feature is the square reception desk that hangs from the celling. The office also features a modern waiting room for clients with a self-serve kitchen.

While Black Retail designed its office around the client experience, CEO Tina Wilcox said she wanted a comfortable environment for employees, who often spend long hours at the office. Their dogs are also welcome.

The office space has conference rooms and open work spaces designed for collaboration between employees. There is also a production room, where employees can test new ideas and create mockups of products.

How's about a haircut with your Orlebar Brown polo at Martin Patrick

By: John Ewoldt  Published: July 29, 2016

Dust never settles at Martin Patrick 3, the North Loop men's store dubbed "as good as bricks and mortar can be" by Minneapolis retail branding expert Tina Wilcox. After opening a bedding boutique with exclusive designs by Colette Jaffe last month, a men's barber shop called Marty's by Jon Charles has just been added. It takes the place of Apology, the women's gift department which has been temporarily downsized to a smaller area.

The three-chair barber shop (with barber pole) for men and boys fits like a glove inside the handsome, classically modern men's store. A handful of services are offered so far--a Marty haircut (a quick, no shampoo cut) for $35, a Maxx cut with shampoo and styling for $45 a kids cut for $25, gray reduction color and a neck shave. Women can get their hair cut too, said co-owner Dana Swindler if they want a more masculine cut.

""It makes sense to offer a barbershop to their clients," said Wilcox. "It's part of the total circle of guys who want to look good. A lot of Minneapolis executives shop there who are time-stretched."

North Loop continues to attract a desirable tenant mix. Besides recent additions of Grethen House, InVision Eyewear and Pacifier, The Hewing boutique hotel with 125 rooms opens at the end of October at Washington and 3rd Aves. North. Russell + Hazel stationery will open at the end of the summer.

"Martin Patrick is spectacular in a town where luxury doesn't always work," said Wilcox. "They do so many things right."

North Loop's Martin Patrick 3 sets standard for shopping experience

Martin Patrick 3 is one of the most unique men's stores in the country, but the North Loop anchor did not start out that way.

By: John Ewoldt  Published: February 14, 2016


The team: Owners Dana Swindler and Greg Walsh stand front left and center, above. Behind them are employees Robert Elder, Todd Fliginger, Erick DeLeon, Hannah Weer and Megan Housman.

The Twin Cities is a difficult place for luxury retailers.

Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue and Intoto have come and gone. Only one shopping center, the Galleria in Edina, can rightfully claim to be luxury-focused. Even the Mall of America, despite its huge size and the presence of Nordstrom, won't be a luxury destination until its next expansion is complete.
But as the North Loop attracted more people to live in downtown Minneapolis, its former warehouses and factories began to attract upscale retailers, becoming a new destination for Twin Cities shoppers. At the center of the neighborhood's development is a men's store that didn't start out as one and that, over the past five years, has become one of the most distinctive shopping experiences in the entire Twin Cities — Martin Patrick 3.

"Martin Patrick is at the point where they're as good as bricks and mortar can be," said Tina Wilcox, chief executive of Black, a retail branding agency in Minneapolis. "They have great merchandise, a good-better-best pricing policy that allows a lot of different people to shop there, and they move and turn merchandise quickly so the store always looks new."

The store sells men's clothes along with furniture and interior design services in the 130-year-old Colonial Warehouse building, originally home to a streetcar company. Martin Patrick 3's layout is almost mazelike with niches, nooks and crannies devoted to various brands and departments. Snacks are placed around the store for browsers to freely nibble. And there's a bar for drinks where customers can relax.

Geoff Schneiderman, president at Eleventy USA, a fashion brand that Martin Patrick 3 stocks, said the store is "one of the best examples of creating an experience."

Martin Patrick 3 not only sells men's clothing but home goods, as pictured above. Snacks are situated throughout the store for shoppers, and a bar is available for those waiting or to simply relax.

Around its 3rd Av. N. location, restaurants such as Bachelor Farmer, Spoon and Stable and Bar La Grassa have joined retailers Askov Finlayson, Shinola, Arrow, D. Nolo, Pacifier and Cooks of Crocus Hill. Representatives of two retail newcomers in the North Loop, Grethen House women's boutique and Russell + Hazel office products, said being close to Martin Patrick 3 influenced their moves. "Martin Patrick is an anchor retailer there and highly desirable for us," said Kara Christopherson, president of Russell + Hazel.

Tadd Brindley, co-owner of Grethen House, said, "Their store is so gorgeous that it encouraged me to push the visuals in our stores to be better."

Consumers want a sense of theater and entertainment in retail that they can't get in an online store, according to Bill Damberg, owner of Brightwater men's store in Excelsior. "The breadth of their selection, from personal care items to bespoke suits, rivals anything you could find in New York or L.A.," he said.

Co-owner Greg Walsh started the business in 1994 as an interior design firm near Lake Calhoun. After moving downtown and adding a furniture studio, customers suggested to Walsh and co-owner Dana Swindler that they offer men's clothing. They tried offering a few apparel items in 2006, then created a separate clothing store in 2008. Two years later, they brought it all together and moved into the Colonial Warehouse.

"We never planned to add men's and furniture," Walsh said. "We're bad business people that way."

The store has experienced 30 percent to 40 percent annual growth for each of the past four years, a time when retail growth nationally has been in the single digits. "It's crazy busy," Walsh said. "All engines are firing — furniture, apparel and design each contribute."

The store is gaining more attention from retail analysts and sophisticated shoppers from outside the region. Peter DeNunzio, chief executive of HelloWorld, a digital marketing solutions company in New York, discovered it while in Minneapolis on business. "It's all high quality and high style. An orgy of things beautifully displayed like eye theater," he said. "The salespeople give a personal touch without being sales-y."

The sales staff is anchored by Todd Fliginger, who was at Neiman Marcus in downtown Minneapolis until it closed in 2013 and was that retailer's top salesman in all of its men's departments across the country.

Robert Elder moved from Nordstrom at Mall of America, where he was one of its top sellers of suits.

Vivek Nagrani, the owner and clothing designer of VK Nagrani, a brand sold at Martin Patrick 3, said the store's sales team try to understand a customer's lifestyle rather than his credit limit.

Nagrani said he's impressed that the sale room at Margin Patrick 3, which is an afterthought in most retailers, is "beautiful."

"They're telling their sale customers that they are just as important as the full-price customer," the designer said.

Swindler said he insisted on a permanent sale room from the start.

"It's been a big hit. We never buy things just to put them in the sale room like some retailers do," he said. "Everything comes from full-priced stock."

Erick DeLeon, store manager and lead men's buyer, said part of what makes Martin Patrick work is never forgetting its Minnesota roots.

"We're Midwestern born and bred here," he said. "We want guys to look good but that doesn't mean flashy or showing off the most expensive label."

Uphostery fabric at Martin Patrick 3

Uphostery fabric at Martin Patrick 3
He said the store will always offer good-better-best price points. "We just picked up Bonobos, which has pants for less than $100," DeLeon said.

Retail analyst Tina Wilcox sees few missteps in Martin Patrick 3. Only Apology, a store-within-the-store women's boutique with gifts that guys can pick up at the last minute for wives or girlfriends, gets a thumbs down from her.

"A guy definitely named that," she said.

Women comprise about 40 percent of the store's customer base, mainly buying home goods or clothes for the men in their life. Cass Lowe of Maple Grove, who shopped at Martin Patrick 3 for a Valentine gift for her husband last week, asked, "Why don't they have a store for women? I love the niches, the snacks, the smell and the way it makes me feel."

A separate women's store isn't in the cards, the owners say. Nor is another location. "For our own sanity we want to keep one location and keep refining it," Walsh said.

He and Swindler may add bedding, a flower shop and a barber shop. There's another 4,000 square feet of space in which to expand in the old warehouse building. But after three expansions since 2010, they're not planning another soon.

"We want to keep it a joy, not a job," Walsh said.

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