Is Ivanka Trump Planning a Big Fashion Comeback in China?
While Ivanka Trump’s former fashion label hemorrhaged U.S. customers, she’s taken out new trademarks in China. It may be part of her post-White House plan.
As the AP reported, Chinese officials have approved five trademarks Trump first filed in 2016 and 2017. Given Trump’s self-branding as a lifestyle guru, those trademarks covering wedding dresses, sunglasses, brokerage, charitable fundraising, and art valuation make sense.
The fifth trademark covers childcare centers, which is somewhat eerie considering her father’s family separation policy. (Ivanka called the policy “a low point” for the administration.)
Of course, the timing of this approval is certainly suspect, considering President Trump’s ongoing trade negotiations with China. As the AP noted, Chinese officials could leverage Ivanka’s new trademarks against the US in future deals.
Representatives for Trump did not respond to The Daily Beast’s request for comment but have previously stated the trademarks were filed preemptively to deter copycats from using Trump’s name.
Amy Hsiao, an expert on Chinese trademark law and partner at the law firm Adsero IP, told The Daily Beast that Trump’s trademarks took two years to get approved because Chinese officials deal with a high volume of applications.
“Right now, China is No 1 in the world for trademark applications,” Hsiao said. “They’re dealing with around 10 times more applications than the United States is.”
According to Hsiao, if Trump is indeed planning a revamp of her clothing line, this trademark ensures her two options. She can either produce and sell her goods in China, or only manufacture clothing there for U.S. export.
Though Trump wrote that it was an “honor” to “build this incredible community of Women Who Work” after closing her line in July, the fashion community bid her mid-priced collection more of a good riddance.
Even before Ivanka Trump, the brand, took a hit through association with Donald Trump, the president, the former model never attained true fashion clout. In 2011, designer Derek Lam sent Ivanka a cease and desist letter, accusing her team of ripping off a pair of black wedge heels. As Derek Lam CEO Jan-Hendrik Schlottmann put it, “We have seen very similar copies before but we have never seen a shoe that perfectly copied [ours].”
Four years later, a post on the Instagram account of Italian shoe label Aquazzura suggested that Trump was selling a pair of strappy fringe sandals that were almost identical to a $785 version they released first.
Even without these copying controversies, the Trump brand felt fairly uninspired. Her line was less of a collection and more of a parade of sterile sheath dresses in varying pastel shades.
“Her brand was never what anyone stylish would call fashion,” Charles Beckwith, producer and host of American Fashion Podcast, bluntly put it. “That wasn’t her thing. She traded on her name and sold something that people could already find somewhere else.”
But overseas, Ivanka Trump has a different reputation.
“She’s quite popular in China,” Hsiao said. “She’s seen as an independent woman.”
In 2017, an NBC report revealed that there are numerous fan pages for “Goddess Ivanka,” who is viewed as chic, elegant, and diplomatic. Trump has scored points among citizens for embracing Chinese culture through teaching her children Mandarin, or celebrating the traditional New Year at the country's embassy in D.C.
Whether or not Trump can leverage her image into another brand is yet to be seen. Until then, we'll always have these discounted Macy's dresses—nearly half a year after Trump shuttered, they show no signs of selling out.