Trump-dumping spreads: Macy’s cuts ties with Donald’s ties

Donald Trump during the 2015 “Celebrity Apprentice” finale.  CREDIT: David Giesbrecht/NBC.)

More than 728,000 people signed a petition calling on Macy’s to ditch the Donald – to sever its ties with Donald Trump, the real estate mogul-turned-celebrity designer-turned-Republican presidential candidate.

And Wednesday morning, the national department store chain announced that it was doing just that.

“Macy’s is a company that stands for diversity and inclusion,” the company said in a statement. “We have no tolerance for discrimination in any form. We welcome all customers, and respect for the dignity of all people is a cornerstone of our culture. We are disappointed and distressed by recent remarks about immigrants from Mexico. We do not believe the disparaging characterizations portray an accurate picture of the many Mexicans, Mexican Americans and Latinos who have made so many valuable contributions to the success of our nation. In light of statements made by Donald Trump, which are inconsistent with Macy’s values, we have decided to discontinue our business relationship with Mr. Trump and will phase-out the Trump menswear collection, which has been sold at Macy’s since 2004.”

Trump responded with his own statement, suggesting that he was breaking up with them first anyway. It read in part: “I have decided to terminate my relationship with Macy’s because of the pressure being put on them by outside sources. While selling Trump ties and shirts at Macy’s is a small business in terms of dollar volume, my principles are far more important and therefore much more valuable. “

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He took a couple swipes on his way out the door, though, adding that he has “never been happy about the fact that the ties and shirts are made in China” and that if he starts a new product line of his own, “I would insist that they are made in America.”

Once the Trump-branded merchandise is gone from the stores, that’s it. Collectors can still purchase his menswear – on sale! – via the Macy’s website. The decision does not effect the Ivanka Trump collection, which Macy’s also sells.

Trump drew the ire of the online masses in the days following his presidential campaign announcement, during which he referred to Mexicans who enter this country illegally as, among other derogatory things, “rapists.” In the aftermath of those comments, the Spanish language network Univision canceled its plans to air Trump’s Miss USA and Miss Universe pageants. The anti-Trump battleship, plowing ahead with 200,000 petitioners, then set its sights on NBC, which airs the beauty pageants as well as Celebrity Apprentice, in which Trump stars. NBC Universal, the network’s parent company, relented and announced on Monday that it was ending its partnership with Trump.

Meanwhile, the outraged were zeroing in on Macy’s.

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The department store to middle America has a long history with Trump. The Donald J. Trump brand was launched in Macy’s Herald Square in 2004 with an elaborate boardroom mise en scene and great fanfare. The initial focus was on business suits – a bold move at a time when tailored menswear was overshadowed by an emphasis on Casual Friday.

By no means was Trump designing the suits; he simply licensed his name to the Marcraft Apparel Group. Yet he was a surprisingly ideal brand representative: He was a public figure who had never been seen in shirt sleeves and boasted high name recognition in the mainstream, says Teri Agins, author of Hijacking the Runway: How Celebrities Are Stealing the Spotlight From Fashion Designers. Initially, Trump, who wore Brioni suits, saw his brand as on par with Giorgio Armani, Agins says.

But savvier garmentos prevailed: The money was in bulk sales. A middle manager could snag one of these suits on sale for about 300 bucks.

With his unmistakable swagger and easy flaunting of his wealth, Trump also epitomized the ostentatious – sometimes obnoxious – thrill of new money, even if his wasn’t especially new. The average Joe could understand that. Trump was aspirational.

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The suits were an immediate success and were soon followed by shirts, ties and a fragrance. It was all packaged with the usual Trump bravado, which included a little card accompanying each suit which noted, in part, that it was “the ultimate achievement in clothing manufacturing” and that the Donald, himself, had signed off on the quality.

Macy’s likes to make a big deal about its celebrity brands and Trump’s has long been one of its most prominent. He was so closely associated with the department store that he appeared in the store’s Christmas advertising campaigns. The Macy’s website boasted everything from $69 shirts and $65 ties to $650 suits and $45 cuff links. That’s regular price, of course.