What is the appeal of the Ivanka brand?


This is a follow on this previous post, in which I wrote about the bizarre personal-business hustling engaged in by the Trump family even as daughter and son-in-law are (even more bizarrely) engaged in high-level diplomacy and policymaking.

It leads me to this tangentially related thought:

You know what absolutely floors me? The fact that there’s a market for Ivanka Trump clothing, or whatever it is she sells. (Yep. Just checked. It’s clothing.)

What would motivate people to dig into their pockets and buy such things — and not other items that clothe one’s nakedness just as effectively? It’s a complete mystery to me. And yet they do. I heard on the radio this morning that her sales are up 166 percent since last year.

And I’m not really talking about Ivanka Trump in particular. What makes people want to buy, I don’t know, things branded with the names of Martha Stewart or whomever? What does the buyer think he (or, I suppose in these instances, more likely she) is getting by paying for that brand? What void is being filled by obtaining these products? How is one’s life made better?

Come on, it's Steve McQueen -- that's a special category.

Come on, it’s Steve McQueen!

I’ve tried to think of when I’ve bought or yearned for things for similar reasons, and I guess I have to go back to my childhood. I thought a toy sawed-off rifle like the one carried by Steve McQueen in “Wanted: Dead or Alive” was amazingly awesome, but come on — that was Steve McQueen. Anything associated with the King of Cool — such as the poster of him on a motorcycle from “The Great Escape” that adorned the wall of my room in my high school days — should be in a separate category.

In junior high, my friends and I were briefly interested in cheap plastic “spy” gadgets that bore the 007 logo were pretty great.

Also, I was attracted in part to my first set (half-set, actually) of golf clubs (also in high school) by the fact that they were Arnold Palmer brand. I liked Arnie. I wanted to play like Arnie (he always went straight at ’em).

But since then, I can’t think of anything along those lines. Which means that to the extent that I understand the impulse to buy celebrity brands, I regard it as a mark of the immature mind.

And perhaps it’s very young people who are buying the Ivanka stuff. But I have a feeling that that’s not entirely the case.

Taking it from the general to the specific, of course, I suppose the appeal of her stuff in particular is related to whatever the Trump appeal is, which also remains unfathomable to me. I suppose there’s a certain desperate, sad sort who sees the Trumps as glamorous rather than tacky.

But my question is broader than that…

In the '60s, the head of an Arnold Palmer driver was considered fairly large, which seems ridiculous now...

In the ’60s, the head of an Arnold Palmer driver was considered fairly large, which seems ridiculous now…

10 thoughts on “What is the appeal of the Ivanka brand?

  1. Bart

    What is the appeal of the Beyonce’ brand? Does buying her expensive drugstore perfume make the wearer more attractive or successful? No, it only puts more money in her bank account along with her husband. What is the appeal of any celebrity brand? Does buying apparel branded by a celebrity of any note change the essence of the piece of clothing or accessory? Does Matthew McConaughey’s commercials for Lincoln make it a better choice and does it automatically transform one into a clone of McConaughey? Sure, it rides better and has more luxury features than a cheaper vehicle but does it transform the owner into something he or she is not?

    Will buying and using the Total Gym transform a male into Chuck Norris or a female into Christine Brinkley? Will going on the diet endorsed by Oprah Winfrey transform a female into another billionaire celebrity?

    The appeal is in part the idol worship culture of celebrities that was popularized by Robin Leach on his weekly half hour show, “The Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous”. So, today it includes Ivanka Trump and it is not just in America, it is spread across the globe. Some guys freak out over the latest athletic shoes endorsed by some celebrities. I.E., some of Jordan’s have caused near riots and the price of a pair could buy a family food for a month or longer.

    Guess I don’t understand and never will.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Good one!

      But that’s not really what we do — persuading people to buy stuff they don’t need.

      And if we did, they wouldn’t put me on it. Definitely not my forte…

    2. Bart

      Why do you ask? Give me a reasonable explanation why you want to know, again, and I will give you an answer.

  2. Norm Ivey

    I confess to being brand-loyal in some areas. I like my Levi’s and Timberlands. There are a few breweries whose beer I’ll try no matter how bizarre the brew sounds. I’m so happy with my Weber grill that it would be difficult to purchase any other brand now. I drink Coca-Cola even when it’s not the brand on sale. Then there’s Amazon, eBay and PayPal. But those are all loyalties based on past experience. I can’t recall the last time I made a purchase of a product because of the person endorsing it. And I don’t know that I’ve ever purchased a celebrity product.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      You know, I used to be — brand-loyal I mean. I was a Coca-Cola addict, I would only wear Levi’s when I wore jeans, and it had to be Heinz ketchup.

      But over the years, I think God has been working on me to break me free of those material attachments, using different strategies. For instance:

      — I quit drinking Cokes in my 30s, when for some reason I became extremely sensitive to the caffeine. That lasted until I was about 50 (which was when I started drinking coffee). Now, I don’t drink sodas of any kind anymore. I don’t like them much. And if I find myself drinking some just because I’m thirsty and it’s available, I don’t care about the brand.

      — Sometime when I was in my 40s or thereabouts, I got to where jeans never felt comfortable on me. I switched to cargo pants, the baggier the better. And they have those awesome pockets. During the week, I always where a sport coat, because I need the pockets to carry my stuff — wallet, tissues (for my allergies), my clip-on sunglasses, a pocket notebook, various drugs (on account of the allergies and in case of asthma). On the weekend, the cargo pants replace the coat.

      — Somewhere along the line, I realized that almost any ketchup, including generics, tasted the same as Heinz to me. Maybe the manufacturers all started aping the Heinz recipe; I don’t know. But I consider spending extra for the brand a waste of money.

      My financial reversals of recent years have accelerated the process of moving away from brands. (My cargo pants are always whatever brand was on sale in my size at Walmart.) But you know what? I don’t miss the brands.

      Yeah, when I buy coffee, I try to make it Starbucks, for the reason you cite: Experience. I know it will always be good coffee. And to keep things simple my chinos and dress shirts (my uniform during the week) are always Izod because I have confidence that they’ll fit (also you can usually get them on sale at Belk or Steinmart). I see that as a time-saver. Also, if someone wants to give me clothes for my birthday, I know what size will fit.

      I usually buy Bacardi black rum, because it’s the cheapest dark rum widely available, and I think it tastes awesome with ginger ale. The ginger ale is always generic — 84 cents for a two-liter bottle at Food Lion.

      What with my on-again, off-again paleo diet, I don’t drink much beer. When I do, my default is Yuengling, which is pretty cheap. I also enjoy Gold Mine, which — hang onto your hats — is only $3.99 a six-pack at Whole Foods. But I do have a weakness for Dos Equis Amber, Michelob Amber Bock, and Guinness stout when they are readily available.

      But overall, I’m not nearly as particular as when I was young…

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