On Tuesday night, a visit to the website of the Ivanka Trump brand turned up a sharply cut floral dress and a pair of suede sandals on broad, three-inch heels. “Bring on the heat” unspooled in elegant italics across the site’s landing page. By then, the message had acquired an awkward dual meaning. Earlier in the day, Ivanka Trump had acknowledged that she would be closing her apparel-and-accessories business, IT Collection, and laying off its employees. Trump publicly blamed her hectic schedule as an adviser to her father, President Donald Trump: “After 17 months in Washington, I do not know when or if I will ever return to the business,” she said, “but I do know that my focus for the foreseeable future will be the work I am doing here in Washington.” But the closure also comes at the end of an undeniably bad run for the fashion line, during which Nordstrom and other retailers stopped selling it, citing poor performance. In the end, it seemed, Ivanka Trump could not handle the heat.
Every Trump needs a personal brand, and, for the longest time, Ivanka’s has been as the Platonic ideal of the modern working woman—one who, through sheer determination, will have it all. She has been known to post photos to Instagram in which she poses in elegant evening wear, clearly about to depart for a night out, while one or another of her children frolic at her feet wearing pajamas; her Twitter profile advertises that she identifies as a “wife, mother, sister, daughter” as well as an “advisor to POTUS.” Shortly after Trump introduced her fashion brand, in 2014, she launched a hashtag campaign, #WomenWhoWork, organized around “content that inspires and empowers women to create the multidimensional lives they want to live.” Her 2017 book is called Women Who Work: Rewriting the Rules for Success. In it, Trump writes that when she engaged New York ad agencies to refine her brand’s message, the admen cautioned her against overdoing the language around working, what with its associations with “professional tedium.”