Fashion Failure | Women Are Boycotting Ivanka Trump’s Fashion Line and the Stores That Sell It
Despite her father’s uncanny ability to offend and alienate women more with each passing day, Ivanka Trump has managed to maintain a relatively high level of respect throughout Donald Trump’s turbulent presidential campaign. Some would say Ivanka has even been the one saving grace for a candidate who is increasingly being viewed as little more than a misogynistic narcissist by many Americans — particularly women.
But some women have had enough and are no longer willing to turn a blind eye as Ivanka continues to lend her father unwavering support while simultaneously claiming to advocate for women’s rights. Shannon Coulter is one of these women. On October 10, Shannon — a San Francisco-based brand and digital strategist, called on Americans to boycott Ivanka Trump’s eponymous line of clothing and accessories, which is estimated to be worth $100 million, according to Forbes.
Though she once supported Ivanka as an entrepreneur, Coulter now finds it virtually impossible to support a brand with the name Trump attached to it. So she is refusing to buy any of Ivanka’s products and is urging others to follow suit. She’s even created a hashtag — #GrabYourWallet — as a call to action for women to “vote with their wallet,” according to the Guardian, “as well as a pointed echo of Donald Trump’s bragging on tape about being able to approach women uninvited and “grab them by the p****y.”
Coulter continues to tweet every day, multiple times per day, to promote the #GrabYourWallet boycott and has even neatly compiled a spreadsheet of all Ivanka Trump Collection retailers along with their customer-service phone numbers and links to their feedback forms, to help participants take action. Regardless, all but one retailer have remained silent about the boycott and continue to sell Ivanka’s products. The only store to address the controversy is Nordstrom, which released the following statement to the Guardian: “We have heard from some customers about this. We don’t currently have any plans to stop offering this collection.”
In fact, for Coulter, that now-notorious Access Hollywood tape was the final straw. After hearing the Republican candidate brag about forcing himself on women, she’d had enough and could no longer excuse Ivanka for defending her father — and even going so far as to call him “a feminist.” Coulter told Cosmopolitan that for a while there, as Donald campaigned with Ivanka by his side, women were content to “give Ivanka a pass because she’s his daughter and it’s hard to be objective about your dad. But the Trump tape sent people over the edge.” She continued, “I think [women] took particular offense, as I did, to the fact that Ivanka tries to make feminism a part of her brand but is standing by, as an official campaign surrogate, a guy who is an alleged serial sexual assaulter of women. The disconnect was too big. And they were ready to speak up about it and flex their consumer power about it.”
Donald’s words also struck a very personal chord for Coulter. She told the Guardian a story of sexual harassment she remembers enduring years before. “I was in an office belonging to a firm I was working for in Silicon Valley, and my boss’s boss came breezing through. Suddenly he came up behind me and pressed himself right up against me and said, ‘Why is it you always look so good?’ He had a colleague with him, and it was so humiliating,” Coulter said. “And when I heard Donald Trump talking on that tape, I recognized in his words the same feeling that I had that day — of being nothing more than an object. No matter how smart you are or how hard you work, they can do that to us.”
Now Coulter is leading the charge not just by promoting the boycott to women, but by challenging every retailer that sells the Ivanka Trump Collection — including T.J. Maxx, Amazon.com, Zappos, Bloomingdale’s, Lord & Taylor, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, Dillard’s, DSW, Macy’s, Marshall’s, and Saks Off Fifth, according to Cosmopolitan, which identifies Coulter as the CEO of a boutique marketing agency.
Coulter has a substantial Twitter following of almost 14,000 at the time of this article’s publication, so — through retweets and comments — her proposed boycott has the potential to reach an exponentially larger audience. Cosmopolitan says that Coulter’s boycott-related tweets “have earned an estimated 1 million impressions on Twitter, according to her analytics report.” The Guardian adds, “More than a million people have viewed her posts in the last 10 days, and she is receiving 200 direct replies on Twitter per day and hundreds of retweets, according to a review of the relevant social media activity.”
Some women had been contemplating a boycott of the Ivanka Trump Collection even before Coulter launched her campaign. Amy Andelora, a 52-year-old high school teacher in Mesa, Arizona, told Cosmopolitan that the Donald’s offensive hot-mic comments also compelled her to stop shopping Ivanka’s line and to hold retailers accountable for selling it. “Days after the tape’s release, Andelora tweeted a plea to Neiman Marcus, asking the retailer to remove Ivanka’s line. She is also boycotting her favorite store, Nordstrom, where she says she formerly spent ‘hundreds of dollars per month,’” according to the article.
Another woman, 29-year-old Lindsey Ledford, recounted to Cosmopolitan the story of a recent shopping trip to one of her favorite stores, T.J. Maxx, which sells products from the Ivanka Trump line. While examining a blouse she was considering purchasing, she spotted the Ivanka Trump label, and it triggered a severe visceral reaction because it brought to mind past personal incidents of physical abuse and sexual assault. “Suddenly, she felt like her throat was closing and she couldn’t breathe,” according toCosmopolitan. “My first thought was, ‘Grab them by the p***y. We can do anything we want. Don’t even ask,’” she told the publication, echoing Donald’s vulgar dialogue from the leaked tape. “[Ivanka] is supporting one of the most offensive, sexist, racist, xenophobic human beings to ever run for president,” Ledford continued. “She is making a buck off it.”
According to the Guardian, Susan Rhodes of Palm Beach, Fla. — where the Donald’s Mar-a-Lago property is located — told the publication that his words also hit close to home for her. “I remember working as a female banker in Florida 30 years ago and being surrounded by men saying, ‘I can’t talk to you today because your boobs are staring me in the face so I can’t focus.” So Rhodes decided to forgo Ivanka’s products, “despite having previously bought a ‘very tasteful’ pair of $400 Ivanka Trump boots from Amazon for her daughter last year,” according to the Guardian.
Andelora, Ledford, and Rhodes are just three of an innumerable number of women (and at least one man: actor Don Cheadle, who retweeted Coulter’s boycott) who are now onboard with Coulter’s boycott of the Ivanka Trump brand. The women can no longer separate Ivanka from Donald. To them, the surname Trump, no matter what given name precedes it, is an emblem of sexism, assault, and the complete denigration of an entire gender. And they can no longer support the brand of a Trump woman who stands by and even defends Donald’s words, actions, and everything he seems to stand for.
Similarly, Ivanka and her team are sidestepping the controversy and instead choosing to emphasize the success of the brand. When contacted, Ivanka’s chief brand manager, Abigail Klem, told the Guardian, “We are proud that our business is growing rapidly and that our brand resonates strongly with women who are inspired by our messaging and excited about the polished and chic solution-oriented products that we offer.”
Meanwhile, Coulter — as a fellow successful businesswoman — claims she is not trying to attack Ivanka through her boycott, but rather challenge Ivanka’s paradoxical behavior and questionable integrity. “If she were not campaigning for Donald Trump, I would be very happy for her business and proud of her success. But I think she is being used to whitewash the candidate and make him more palatable,” Coulter told the Guardian. ToCosmopolitan, she added, “[Ivanka is] the head of an international, $100 million dollar a year brand. She’s sophisticated. I think she’s smarter than Donald Trump. Part of why I started the boycott is because I respect her as a businesswoman. We should hold her to a higher standard.”