- Facebook/Ivanka Trump
Ivanka Trump is facing criticism for posting a photo of herself wearing a $5,000 gown on Saturday, after her father, President Donald Trump, signed an executive order that barred citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the US.
Critics are slamming the glamorous photo – which also features her tuxedo-wearing husband, Jared Kushner – as “sickening” and “tone-deaf” at a time when immigrants are being detained at airports across the US as a result of the executive order.
But one brand expert thinks the photo could be a brilliant and deliberate move designed to distance Ivanka from her father’s policies.
“The dress picture says ‘I don’t necessarily want to be associated or aligned with the Trump administration,'” said Eric Schiffer, CEO of Reputation Management Consultants, which works with companies to overcome crises. “It shows that she is doing things that are asynchronistic, or not connected to Trump’s actions.”
Ivanka stepped away from her brand in January and has said she would not take a position in her father’s administration. Kushner is a senior White House adviser.
This wouldn’t be the first time Ivanka has distanced herself from her father’s politics.
The New York Times reported in November that Ivanka had discouraged the campaign from promoting a TV ad, in which she urged voters to support him, for fear that it would damage her business.
While Ivanka’s photo may have been a similar effort to separate herself from her father, it also triggered widespread backlash on social media.
Many people said it was insensitive, and some tweeted the photo of Ivanka in her metallic dress next to a photo of a young refugee wrapped in a foil blanket.
— Diana Prince Stan (@VoiceOfThePhan) January 29, 2017
“Your fancy clothes are sickening while people are being treated like criminals in airports across the country,” one person said in a Facebook comment.
Some critics are calling for a boycott of Ivanka’s line of clothing and accessories – a threat she has faced before. Her namesake brand is sold by dozens of retailers, including Amazon, Nordstrom, Lord & Taylor, Bloomingdale’s, Macy’s, Dillard’s, Marshalls, and Neiman Marcus.
But Schiffer says Ivanka’s brand probably wouldn’t take a hit from the photo. In fact, it could get a boost, he said.
“I think she is benefitting from the immense glamor that bestows presidents and their families,” he said. “Fashion that is worn by anyone that is tied to the White House is always going to be hot fashion – no matter the politics.”
Over time, however, her brand value could erode because of her close association with President Trump.
“One tone-deaf social media post by itself is not going to damage her brand,” said Greg Portell, a partner at A.T. Kearney, a global strategy and management consulting firm.
But as President Trump’s policies begin to take effect, companies like Macy’s and Nordstrom could face mounting pressure to drop Ivanka’s brand.
“It will absolutely put pressure on her distribution partners to make those tough decisions,” Portell said.