Expect to see a whole lot more of the Trump name — and not just in real estate news.
Ivanka Trump, businesswoman and first daughter of developer Donald Trump, has already taken on more than her executive role in her father’s company, bowing a namesake, high-end jewelry collection and writing a best-selling book offering young women tips for getting ahead. Now she’s taking on shoes.
Teaming up with Marc Fisher Footwear, the 28-year-old is debuting a complete collection of moderately priced footwear for spring ’11, which includes a mix of stilettos, flip-flops, sneakers and ballet flats. The line, Trump said, showcases her affinity for sophisticated and elegant looks and weaves in contemporary and modern twists.
“There’s a great opportunity to position stylish, yet refined, shoes,” she said of the collection, which debuts at FFANY next week. “What you tend to see are totally unwearable, over-the-top styles, or [looks that are] comfortable to the point of forgoing any appealing aesthetic. I’m going for the middle.”
Though price points are still being worked out, Marc Fisher Footwear President Susan Itzkowitz said the 75-to-100-style line is tentatively priced between $80 and $140 and is being targeted to department stores in the U.S., Canada and Mexico in its first season.
“There’s a real niche for a line like this,” said Itzkowitz. “Every part of the collection will be very reflective of Ivanka, [and] it gives us an opportunity to have a beautifully executed line for that classy, contemporary woman. It gives us a whole new dimension to our business.”
While Trump also has partnered with handbag licensee Mondani on a collection for spring ’11 and spun out her jewelry line to wholesale, the Wharton School of Business grad said she’s content — for now — to focus on these ventures.
“I don’t take these partnerships lightly. It’s about creating a sustainable, long-term business,” she said.
FN: Why did you decide to delve into footwear?
IT: [In the moderate market], you don’t see the same level of refinement in terms of the shape of a shoe that you do at higher price points, and there’s no reason for that. At lower price points, people seem to love the razzle-dazzle glitter, and that’s just not what I respond to. It’s overly trendy, flashy, a lot of hardware and just too much going on. There isn’t a lot [of product] in the mid-price range for women who want to wear an elegant pair of shoes to work but also look cool and glamorous at night. So there’s a great opportunity to position stylish, yet refined, shoes.
FN: We’re coming out of a pretty rough economic time. Was that a consideration as you ventured into a new category?
IT: There are always concerns when you’re launching a new business. But at the end of the day, all you can do is best position a product to fill a niche. Our price points are accessible, the product will be superior to anything out there, and I have a great partner. That’s a recipe for success, and we wouldn’t have gotten into the arrangement if we had questions about our ability to be successful.
FN: How did the partnership with Marc Fisher Footwear come about?
IT: [The company] is very well known, so it didn’t require a tremendous amount of validation, but a lot of friends [in the business] have talked to me about how Marc Fisher would be an extremely strong partner. Brand extensions are a combination of timing, market niche and finding the right partner. I met Susan, and within two weeks, we pretty much had a signed deal. It was just the right fit at the right time. Of course, it’s an added convenience [that we are both in the same building]. I’ve been joking that a requirement of working with me would be taking space at Trump Towers and paying $150 a square foot in rent.
FN: Between real estate, jewelry and now footwear, you’re a busy lady. How hands-on are you with the development of the shoe collection?
IT: I’m [always] ripping pages out of magazines and forwarding them to Marc with a note saying, “This is a beautiful style,” or “I love this fabric — let’s try to figure out a way to incorporate something like this.” I’m very involved and have a concrete concept of what I like and what I don’t. I do take this form of self-expression extremely seriously, and it’s important that every shoe I put out is both something I would wear and reflective of my personal style.
FN: How is your personal style woven into the look of the line?
IT: I like glamorous, classic [styles] and don’t want things that are overly trendy or seasonal. I tend to be drawn to more timeless pieces, but I also want a bit of edge. I tend to like pointed toes and thinner, stiletto-type heels over heavier, clunkier styles. But I recognize that I’m on my feet a lot at work, and the shoe has to feel good. I’ll also have a line of sneakers, flip-flops and flats because that’s pretty much all I wear on the weekends. It really [spans] day to night and beach to city.
FN: Being famous must have helped you launch the brand, but are there also drawbacks to being so recognizable?
IT: The drawbacks are more personal: I don’t have a lot of time, I don’t sleep a tremendous amount, and there’s always something new to focus on, in addition to maintaining and growing everything I’m already doing. Professionally, the only negative is the assumption that [the collection] is not a genuine partnership and is more of a passive interest or a purely monetary endeavor.
FN: What does it take to make a celebrity line successful?
IT: Nobody wants to buy a pair of Ivanka Trump shoes or a pair of Ivanka Trump earrings unless they like Ivanka Trump. And if they like Ivanka Trump, they know how I dress, how I look. If [the collection] doesn’t reflect that, [consumers] won’t be interested. It’s really that simple. The greatest way to validate [the line] and create buzz is to wear your product. I always wear my jewelry and don’t bother wearing anything else. What’s the point?
FN: Are there any mistakes you’re trying to avoid?
IT: The biggest pitfalls would be if the product wasn’t designed well, if the launch wasn’t executed well, or if you simply regarded it as a publicity opportunity. You have to constantly nourish [a brand] and support it, and I’m not sure that every celebrity signs up for that kind of commitment. I hope to be doing this for a long time. I’ll be able to evolve the design and the aesthetic as my tastes change, and as I grow up a little. The interest in me as a partner isn’t based on a hit single or a current blockbuster movie.