What's Next for Ivanka Trump?
New Yorkers are anything but subtle.
Last week, they made their feelings about Ivanka Trump, their former neighbor, explicitly clear, gleefully sharing photos of signs that had been plastered all over Manhattan. “Not Wanted: Ivanka Trump" the fliers read, alongside a photo and description of the first daughter.
Until her father’s run for president, Ivanka enjoyed the many perks of being a Manhattan socialite, from appearances at the Met Gala to Fashion Week runway shows. A registered Democrat until 2018, she socialized with famous friends including Emmy Rossum, Paris Hilton, and even Chelsea Clinton. Many, if not all, have severed ties with the Trumps. It's safe to say that should she choose to return to New York in 2021, she won't be greeted with open arms and a Taylor Swift banger.
Donald Trump and his family will leave the White House on Jan. 20, but if the rumors of the former President starting his own digital media company are true, we haven’t seen the last of them. And this is perhaps especially true of Ivanka, who holds a high-profile role as adviser to the president, and often serves as one of the more groomed faces of his administration.
And while some experts view the election results as a repudiation of Trumpism, others point out that nearly 74 million ballots were cast for Trump, which means that not all Americans feel the same as New Yorkers. So what does that mean for the future of the former first daughter?
A Political Career?
There has been speculation that Ivanka’s next move will be a run for office, perhaps with the goal of ultimately running for president in 2024. However, given her New York zip code, she’d likely have to retire from the notoriously liberal city if she wanted to actually win. In 2016, Hillary Clinton won 86% of the vote in Manhattan, while 84.5 percent of the borough’s ballots were cast for Biden this year. Of course, this doesn’t rule out a potential run.
“We've seen candidates run for seats that aren’t where they've lived,” Tram Nguyen, co-executive director of The New Virginia Majority, tells InStyle, citing Liz Cheney’s successful run for Congress in Wyoming only a few months after moving there, as an example.
“With [Ivanka’s] massive name recognition and a political machinery behind her, theoretically, she could run anywhere,” notes Nguyen. “She can circumvent many of the challenges faced by female candidates such as fundraising and grip-and-grin campaigning.” She adds, “[But] is it good for the country or the democratic process? No.”
Nguyen emphasizes that we shouldn’t underestimate the threat of Ivanka as a candidate. “She has a sophistication that Trump lacks and, at the same time, she’s been described by people intimately familiar with the family [as] someone who is very much like him,” she says. In addition to Trump’s base of voters, Nguyen notes that she’ll also appeal to voters who want to believe in the Republican Party they once knew. “But the reality is, Ivanka is cut from the same cloth as her father, and she will be dangerous for communities of color and immigrant families, and frankly, the vast majority of Americans,” says Nguyen.
Other political experts aren’t as convinced that Ivanka would be a successful candidate. Fatima Goss Graves, CEO & President of the National Women’s Law Center, notes that because she has played such a key role in the Trump administration, she’ll be forced to defend his record over the last four years. “She wasn’t just on an island this whole time; it’s her record, too,” Graves points out. “I think that’s what people will remember. It’s not as if anyone will easily forget the family separation policy. People remain haunted by the over 500 [immigrant] children who haven’t been reunited with their parents.”
Graves also notes that we need more hard data about the demographics of Trump and Biden voters in order to understand the full picture of the 2020 presidential election. Exit polls can be misleading, and that’s especially true this year due to the extremely unusual circumstances of voting amidst a pandemic. For example, although Trump won Florida, that doesn’t necessarily mean Ivanka would be successful in the state. “I actually think it would be a big misreading of the Florida vote to think that the results show there’s a total embrace of [Trump's family],” says Graves.
Answering for the Trump Administration's Alleged Abuse of Power?
On Tuesday morning, Ivanka sat for a deposition with investigators from the Washington D.C. attorney general's office as part of a lawsuit alleging the misuse of inaugural funds. The attorney general's office sued the Trump Organization and the Presidential Inaugural Committee for reportedly overpaying for the event space, a Trump hotel in Washington.
Alan Garten, general counsel for the Trump Organization, said in a statement to CNN, "Ms. Trump's only involvement was connecting the parties and instructing the hotel to charge a 'fair market rate', which the hotel did."
There are a number allegations against the Trump family as a whole, including reported involvement in pyramid schemes and failure to bringing Secret Service money to their hotels. It certainly seems possible that Ivanka could be called to testify in even more cases as we round the corner into 2021.
A Return to the New York Fashion Scene?
Ivanka’s fashion line shuttered in 2018, but it’s certainly possible that she’ll attempt a comeback in the industry. NYC is America’s fashion capital, but Stacy Jones, CEO of Hollywood Branded, a pop-culture influencer and branded-content marketing agency in Los Angeles, tells InStyle that her brand could succeed online and in other major cities. “She’ll have the option of e-commerce and selling from her own platform,” says Jones. “Fashion retailers who actively embrace more of a conservative alliance or customer base would strongly still support who she is and her brand and her messaging.” (The CFDA declined to comment on whether Ivanka would have a chance of being welcomed back into the New York City fashion community.)
Jones says that she can picture Ivanka living and working on her fashion brand in the wealthy enclaves of cities like Dallas or Atlanta. And although a large number of women will certainly make it a point to boycott Ivanka’s products, Jones says that she does still have a market: The white women who voted for Trump. “The millennials and Gen Z white women, especially the millennials, would be the sweet spot for her,” she says.
Jones is confident that Ivanka will continue to pursue fashion, but she emphasizes that Ivanka’s fashion and politics aspirations aren’t mutually exclusive. “I don’t necessarily think it’s one or the other when it comes to fashion and politics,” she tells InStyle. “It never has been. Look at her family. They’ve never said, ‘this or that.’ It’s always been ‘all.’ It wouldn’t have to be only fashion or politics. One is business and one is her political aspirations.”
A Stab at the Socialite Status She Once Had?
Prior to joining her father’s campaign and administration, Ivanka enjoyed socialite status in Manhattan, including appearances at the Met Gala and other prestigious social events. According to a lengthy profile published in The Atlantic last year, Ivanka is “intent” on moving back to the city and is “certain” these same invitations will be waiting for her when she returns. (The Met didn’t respond to InStyle’s inquiry of whether or not she would be invited back to the gala.)
However, the overwhelmingly liberal borough of Manhattan may not be as welcoming as Ivanka would like to believe. After Trump’s loss, her best friend Georgina Bloomberg told The Daily Mail that Ivanka’s return to the city could be “difficult” socially. Former friends like Emmy Rossum, who attended Ivanka’s wedding, have cut ties with Ivanka and Jared Kushner due to their complicity in the Trump administration.
Former Vogue editor Lauren Santo Domingo, who once served with Ivanka as co-chair of the American Museum of Natural History’s winter dance, has also made clear that she has no interest in rekindling any type of relationship with Ivanka. “In the end, it will be @realDonaldTrump and @IvankaTrump alone in the bunker," Santo Domingo tweeted in 2018. Jill Kargman, a writer in the Upper East Side who previously socialized with Ivanka and Kushner, told CNN that Trump’s “awful” and “divisive” rhetoric about New York City could also contribute to a chilly reception upon the couple’s return. "No one here is going to forget that,” Kargman told the outlet. “To even come back here after everything he's said, it's not going to work."
Nevertheless, Ivanka has recently been spotted in Manhattan amidst rumors that she and her family indeed plan to return. After the overwhelming rebuke of the administration that she and Kushner were part of, it certainly seems like Ivanka faces an uphill battle in returning to her old lifestyle. But as we’ve learned over the past five years, anything is possible when it comes to the Trumps.