Trump, by Trump: Ivanka Trump's dress in the spotlight

AP News
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Posted: Jul 22, 2016 6:10 PM
Trump, by Trump: Ivanka Trump's dress in the spotlight

NEW YORK (AP) — It was a moment the head of any fashion label hopes for: A presidential candidate's daughter wears the brand's dress as she introduces him to accept the nomination. The speaker was Ivanka Trump, the sleeveless studded sheath came from her own line, and the candidate she spoke about was her father.

The next morning, she tweeted a link promoting the dress. It was a move that blended politics and business under a huge spotlight, as her father Donald Trump has done throughout the campaign.

Her ensemble was "modern, feminine and beautiful," said Peter Marx, president of the Washington, D.C.-area luxury women's fashion shop Saks Jandel. He said powerful politicians put a lot of thought into the image they're projecting through their clothes even if they're trying to communicate that clothes aren't important to them. He said all of Donald Trump's children showed an "immaculate" style at the convention.

Though the dress will not be available until this fall, since Thursday night a similar blush-colored dress from the Ivanka Trump Collection has sold out at Nordstrom.com and Macys.com, a brand spokesperson said.

It's no surprise that Ivanka Trump might choose to wear something from her own brand, which includes clothing, accessories, shoes and fragrances. But using the RNC to market her clothing got people talking.

"This is pretty novel, other than her father trying to sell Trump Steaks himself in his prior television appearance," said Robert Kelner, a partner at the law firm Covington & Burling.

Kelner, who is in charge of the firm's election and political law practice, compared Ivanka Trump's promotion of her fashion line to a Hollywood designer having a high-profile actor or actress wear their clothes on the red carpet. He said it's legal and doesn't violate any ethical rules since Ivanka Trump herself isn't a candidate for office, but said some people might find the promotion "unseemly" in the context of politics.

That's a hard line to draw when it comes to Donald Trump. He ascended to the Republican nomination by claiming his business acumen as the ultimate credential. He touts a net worth of more than $10 billion, much of it tied up in the value of his own name and companies bearing that moniker. As he accepted the Republican nomination on Thursday, screens around the stage proclaimed "Trump" in giant letters on a golden barrier, much like on the outside of a Trump building.

"His brand is all about his wealth and his business, and so it's not surprising that the campaign would be very closely associated with his business," Kelner said. "By now it's clear I think the voters don't seem to mind."

Trump has sometimes mixed his campaign and his businesses. At a speech in March, he displayed a table full of Trump Winery beverages (the vineyard is run by his son Eric), Trump-branded water and magazines, and steaks that he suggested were from his Trump Steak brand even though that was discontinued years ago.

Kelner says if Trump becomes president, his business holdings could cause conflicts of interest that wouldn't easily be resolved. But there's reason to think the campaign will be good for his business, and for his daughter's.

"Whatever this family decides to do after the election should they not win, they have definitely increased their brand," Marx says.