California fashion boutique sues Ivanka Trump brand

Dive Brief:

  • A San Francisco-based boutique, Modern Appealing Clothing, has filed a class action lawsuit in California State Superior Court against the Ivanka Trump brand, the San Francisco Chronicle/SF Gate reports.

  • Citing California law, the suit alleges unfair competition wrought by Ivanka Trump’s advantages as the daughter of the president, citing President Donald Trump’s tweets and the positions and actions of his advisors, including Ivanka’s husband Jared Kushner, according to a court filing published by SF Gate online. Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway has faced criticism and charges of ethics violations after she touted the brand on television last month.

  • Modern Appealing Clothing is seeking damages and an injunction prohibiting Ivanka Trump from doing business in California as a women’s apparel retailer; it’s a class action meant to benefit all California women’s apparel retailers, according to the filing.

Dive Insight:

Several retailers, most prominently Nordstrom​, have dropped Ivanka Trump’s line, citing poor sales amid controversy over the presidential election, including a boycott from the Grab Your Wallet campaign. Trump herself has since stepped down from her company, which nevertheless retains her name.

Nordstrom saw its share price rise last month after controversial tweets from the President slammed the department store retailer in defense of his daughter’s retail company. But U.S. sales of Ivanka Trump merchandise rose 332% on Amazon, 148% at Macy’s and 29.5% at Bloomingdale's in January and February, according to Slice Intelligence data cited earlier this month by CNN Money. It’s not clear whether the sales rises stem from deep discounts that many retailers tagged onto Trump merchandise.

In any case, Modern Appealing Clothing (also known as MAC) sees Ivanka Trump’s White House ties as a key advantage for the brand, and not just in a passive way. The popular 40-year-old fashion boutique says the brand is benefiting not only from its association with the Trump administration but also from the actions of advisors and the president himself. “Defendant Ivanka Trump and its employees and agents have, since the election, promoted … Ivanka Trump’s brand by exploiting the power and prestige of the White House for personal gain, including, but not limited to, piggy-backing promotion of defendant Ivanka Trump products on appearances at executive brand and other government events,” the filing reads.

The move takes the controversy over Ivanka Trump’s brand to another sphere, flipping the brand's touting of its recent sales boost as evidence of fraud. Until now, the brand, boycotters of the brand and retailers have tussled over how controversies do, don't (or should) affect its sales. But MAC now says that any increased sales accrued from what it describes as fraudulent actions under California law should constitute illegal, unfair competition.

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Filed Under: Corporate News