Should Ivanka Trump the Woman Wear Ivanka Trump the Brand?
A few hours after her father’s news conference on Wednesday at Trump Tower, Ivanka Trump posted a notice on her personal Facebook page officially announcing that she was taking a “formal leave of absence” from all management and operative responsibilities at her fashion brand and that she would be stepping down from her role at the Trump Organization.
周三，父亲在特朗普大厦(Trump Tower)的新闻发布会结束几小时后，伊万卡·特朗普(Ivanka Trump)便在自己的Facebook页面上发出通知，官方宣布“正式离职”，放下在其时尚品牌的所有管理和经营职责，并表示将辞去在特朗普集团(Trump Organization)的职务。
She would, she wrote, be spending the next few months concentrating on settling her children into their new lives in Washington and exploring how she could “determine the most impactful and appropriate ways for me to serve our country.”
This follows earlier decisions to separate her personal social media accounts from those of her brand. Yet in one meaningful area, Ms. Trump and her brand are harder to divide: That is, her wardrobe.
After all, the same day she announced she was separating Ivanka Trump the person from Ivanka Trump the brand, The Daily Mail announced she had worn an Ivanka Trump coat to her father’s news conference. Then it offered a get-the-look box and link. In case, you know, anyone wanted to buy the garment.
毕竟，在她宣布将伊万卡·特朗普本人和伊万卡·特朗普这个品牌分开的同一天，《每日邮报》(The Daily Mail)宣布，她参加父亲的新闻发布会时，穿的是伊万卡·特朗普品牌的外套。之后，该报提供了一个购买详情链接。你懂的，说不定有人想买这件衣服呢。
That turned out not to be true — according to a spokesman for Ms. Trump, the coat was by Joseph Altuzarra — but the confusion around woman and product made for some uncomfortable optics, and it raises the question: What does it mean to separate individual from company where fashion is concerned?
On the one hand, there’s something ridiculous about suggesting that Ms. Trump not wear whatever clothes are in her closet, and as the founder of a fashion brand that bears her name, presumably part of her job has been to promote said brand by wearing it — to, in effect, demonstrate her belief in her own products. So she probably has a lot of such products within reach. And it’s not her fault if some media outlet chooses to point out that she looks good and tells people how they, too, can look good.
On the other hand, her brand is clearly built on her image: Not just her name, but her face, and what she represents. It’s selling the promise that women who wear her clothes can get a piece of her gold dust — and now that this gold dust is visible in the corridors (and news conferences) of power, that is only going to be more true. Every time she is pictured in an Ivanka Trump outfit, it is bound to give a boost to the Ivanka Trump brand. Whether or not they are technically linked.
It’s unclear whether Ms. Trump would benefit from that financially, as specifics about her monetary relationship with her brand were not included in her statement. But even if she is selling her part of the company, for a prominent member of the first family to be seen to be endorsing a brand with her own name on it is a complicated proposition. And an endorsement is exactly what an appearance in an item of clothing has become.
This is a time, like it or not, of obsession with the wardrobe selections of anyone in the public eye, especially women in the public eye (their clothes are more interesting than men’s, after all). And though she has repeatedly said that she will not take a formal role in the new administration, Ms. Trump is emerging as the female face of her father’s inner circle. Simply consider the news conference, where she was the only woman from the immediate family in attendance. There’s a reason The Daily Mail did not get into the specifics of what her brothers wore. She is smart enough to know that any time she steps out of her door, someone is going to try to snap a picture and parse her clothes.
You can argue that Ms. Trump is not an elected official, and thus to demand that she recuse herself from all products associated with her name is unfair punishment. You could say that if she wears, for example, an Alexander McQueen dress, as she did on election night, she is giving that brand a boost, so why shouldn’t she do the same for her own brand? You can point out that there is precedent because she wore her own line numerous times during the campaign, including to introduce her father at the Republican National Convention — but then, the latter choice was not without controversy.
你可以说伊万卡·特朗普并不是民选官员，因而要求她远离和她名字有关的一切产品是不公平的惩罚。你可以举个例子说，如果她就像在选举夜那样穿一条亚历山大·麦昆(Alexander McQueen)的裙子，从而宣传了该品牌，那么她为什么不该为自己的品牌这么做？你可以说这是有先例的，因为她在竞选期间多次穿过自己品牌的衣服，包括在共和党全国大会(Republican National Convention)上介绍自己的父亲，但是后一种选择并不是没有争议。
In part, the resulting brouhaha was, of course, because her brand then promoted that appearance with its own “get the look” link, as it famously did, without her knowledge, when she wore her own-brand bracelet during her family’s appearance on “60 Minutes.” Presumably that won’t happen any more. But brands need personalities to succeed, at whatever price point, and those personalities derive most easily from, well, a person.
A scenario in which Ivanka Trump the brand removes Ms. Trump utterly from its identity is hard to imagine. Though to be fair, the brand’s website is adorned with images and line drawings of many different kinds of women and not with Ms. Trump, so it may be possible.
Either way, this is another illustration of the multiple complicated issues that are going to arise with a member of the first family who also had designs on being a fashion brand. There’s really no playbook for this, as the Ivanka team — figuring it out as it goes along — is quick to remind. In which case, the clothes question should be the next piece of the puzzle to be solved.