Ivanka Trump staged her first fashion show to display the latest addition to her merchandise empire: an array of brightly colored scarf dresses, slim pants and tailored suits.
“This is such a validation of what I’ve been working on,” the daughter of billionaire real estate mogul Donald Trump told a packed audience before the show at Lord & Taylor’s flagship store in Manhattan this week. She wore cream jodhpurs from the collection.
The line, which ranges from a US$50 (NZ$61) top to US$245 dresses, has been a hit. Lord & Taylor’s president, Bonnie Brooks, said 40 per cent of the pieces delivered to the store have sold already, and it’s the designer brand customers are searching for most often on Lord & Taylor’s website.
Brooks, also president of Lord & Taylor’s parent company, Hudson’s Bay Co., said a new collection typically has a five per cent sell-through rate. She said Trump’s clothes have appealed to a broad group of consumers, from women in their 20s up to those in their 60s. And it goes beyond the Trump name, she said. Ivanka Trump is a mother and a business woman, and consumers relate to that, Brooks said.
Trump, executive vice president of development and acquisitions for the Trump Organization, first forayed into retailing in September 2007 when she opened a luxury jewellery store on Madison Avenue.
The store expanded and relocated to Manhattan’s SoHo district last fall. Trump’s jewellery is sold nationwide at various boutiques for US$3,500 apiece on average, including US$5,000 diamond necklaces and US$600 onyx and diamond earrings. Her second jewellery boutique opens in Beijing this summer, and four more are planned in China by 2015.
In spring 2011, Trump started selling handbags and shoes, but at prices more in line with her clothing: Pumps cost about US$125, handbags about US$150.
“You can’t fake diamonds,” Trump said.
That is, there’s flexibility to offer high-quality and stylish clothing even if you can’t use crocodile, she said. Trump said she aims to fill a void she sees in department stores between “dowdy” and overly trendy.
Macy’s Inc. and Nordstrom Inc. stores also sell her clothing and accessories.
The business, excluding jewellery, is expected to generate US$230 million in sales this year, and Trump’s goal is to build a US$1 billion business, with expansion into children’s wear and other areas.
“It’s all about execution and staying on message,” she added.
Trump says she’s involved in the design of the products – but don’t expect her to do the sketches: “I can’t draw.”
Instead, she said, she sends her design team pictures from magazines to help articulate what she wants.