Ivanka Trump’s clothing line has been embroiled in controversy since the election. After stores like Nordstrom, Macy’s, and Neiman Marcus unceremoniously dropped the line from their shelves, it has now come to light that the company that licenses Trump’s designs has reportedly sold her merchandise under a different label to the discount store Stein Mart. Without telling anyone.
According to a report from Business of Fashion, the clothes were relabeled with the name “Adrienne Vittadini Studio.” The article cites a source who claimed that one of the retailer’s customers had spit on a blouse before “storming out” of a store–a hint as to why simply changing the labels on the clothes may have seemed like the safest bet to the company that manufactures the Ivanka Trump line, G-III.
While swapping labels is technically legal, and a spokesperson from the company told Business of Fashion that the switch wasn’t made for political reasons, the report is a glimpse into the power of branding over design in the fashion industry. While the design quality of Trump’s clothing has been the subject of criticism and outright mockery, not to mention a lawsuit over design plagiarism, the design of the clothing itself doesn’t seem to matter at all in this case. Instead, everything hinges on her brand–and increasingly, retailers and manufacturers see it not as an asset, but as a liability.
It’s only the latest in an ever-growing number of controversies for the Ivanka Trump line. A new audit of a factory in China used by G-III revealed that workers there make just $62 for 60 hours of work, among other labor violations.