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Feb 2017
Leading fashion stylists and casting directors have been directed by clients to avoid doing business with Trump Models, a company that promotes itself as “the brainstorm and vision of owner, Donald Trump”, several sources have told the Guardian.

Trump Models refused to comment, but according to its Twitter feed several models had made it on to the catwalk. News of such directives comes during New York fashion week, days after the president used Twitter to condemn the retailer Nordstrom for dropping his daughter Ivanka’s clothing brand, claiming poor sales.

According to one leading casting director who spoke to the Guardian on condition of anonymity, directives to avoid using models represented by Trump Modelsbegan last fall, before the presidential election. They then spread by “word of mouth”, the casting director said.

The effectiveness of any de facto boycott is hard to gauge. Trump Models, founded in 1999, is not considered a big player in the fashion business.

“It’s not a great agency, so it’s not such a big loss,” said the casting director, who was not authorised to speak on behalf of their client.

A French fashion stylist, who also requested anonymity, said she was reluctant to engage with a business that would put money in the pocket of the Trump family. When asked if they would use Trump models during fashion week, she replied simply: “Nooo!”

“People certainly look twice if a Trump model comes for a casting,” said another leading American stylist. “But a boycott wouldn’t necessarily be a big loss to the business.”

A third stylist, a prolific veteran in the industry, said he hoped there was a boycott on the Trump agency but added that “if there was a girl I wanted, I wouldn’t mind if she was represented by Attila the ***”.

On Thursday, the fashion website Refinery 29 reported that hairstylist Tim Aylward had vowed to stop working on jobs that involved “talent” from Trump Models.

Trump Models once represented first lady Melania Trump, and currently represents dozens of models from all over the world. It also runs a division for “legends”, including Paris Hilton and Carol Alt.

The agency, which claims to be at “the forefront of cultivating a wide range of innovative and vibrant talent which personify the trends of the fashion industry”, has faced claims of mismanagement.

Last year, Canadian model Rachel Blais told CNN some managers at the agency had encouraged her to skirt US visa laws. “As a model, one of the things you learn quite quickly is that … you shouldn’t ask too many questions,” Blais said. “If you want to work, you have to do as you’re told. Yet you’re kind of aware that it’s not legal.”

Last year, Canadian model Rachel Blais told CNN some managers at the agency had encouraged her to skirt US visa laws. “As a model, one of the things you learn quite quickly is that … you shouldn’t ask too many questions,” Blais said. “If you want to work, you have to do as you’re told. Yet you’re kind of aware that it’s not legal.”

Blais was also one of four women who described their experience with Trump Models to Mother Jones. The women said they were forced to live in squalor in a crowded apartment in the East Village of New York City.

The women said the apartment contained multiple bunks, for which models paid $1,600 each, and housed up to 11 people at a time. “We’re herded into these small spaces,” one former model said, saying the apartment “was like a sweatshop”.

The then vice presidential candidate Mike Pence told CNN he was “very confident that this business, like the other Trump businesses, has conformed to the laws of this country”.

In court papers filed in 2014, Trump model Alexia Palmer said she was promised full-time work and $75,000 a year. She sued after earning just $3,880 and some modest cash advances for 21 days of work over three years.

“That’s what slavery people do,” Palmer told ABC News in March 2016. “You work and don’t get no money.”

Trump attorney Alan Garten said allegations of being treated like a slave were “completely untrue” and said Palmer had simply not been in demand. The suit was dismissed. Laurence Rosen, a lawyer who represented Trump Models in the case, told the Guardian his firm “is not handling any other lawsuits or claims concerning model representation, nor am I aware that any such lawsuits or claims have been asserted” against Trump Models.

Shannon Coulter, of the Trump boycott movement #grabyourwallet, said Trump Models had not been added to its list of Trump-owned or affiliated businesses because it was not a consumer-facing business.

“What we’re seeing is that the Trump name is becoming truly toxic,” she said. “It seems that people can’t get away from the Trumps fast enough now. I think those casting directors and stylists are making the right call not doing business with them.”

Coulter rejected the suggestion that a boycott of Trump Models might end up hurting the working models it represents, rather than the owners of the business.

“When you chose not to do business with a company,” she said, “you chose to do business with other companies that do have employees, too, so I don’t put stock in that.”

Amid continued questions about Trump’s relationship with his business empire and how it fits with federal ethics regulations, Trump-owned fashion interests have suffered adverse publicity.

On Saturday, retailers Sears and Kmart removed 31 Trump Home items from their online product offerings to focus on more profitable items, a spokesman said. The collection includes furniture, lighting, bedding, mirrors and chandeliers.

Last week, retailer Nordstrom followed Macy’s and Neiman Marcus in dropping Ivanka Trump products. That prompted a furious response from Trump, whotweeted: “My daughter Ivanka has been treated so unfairly by @Nordstrom.”

Nordstrom justified its decision, reporting that online sales of Ivanka Trump products fell 26% in January year on year.

Within the fashion industry, there is speculation that while the performance of Ivanka Trump’s line was disappointing, it was not enough to merit being abruptly dropped.

At least part of the reasoning, they speculate, was pressure from other brands and labels carried by Nordstrom.

“We would not base a decision on that. Our decision was based on the performance of her brand which had been steadily declining over the year. We had discussions with Ivanka and her team and shared our decision with Ivanka personally in early January.”

However, Coulter said it was likely Nordstrom had faced pressure from other suppliers. “The Ivanka Trump sales were down but it’s possibly not the whole truth. There are studies that say boycotts work at the brand level, not the sales level, so probably both forces were at play.”

White House counselor Kellyanne Conway later urged the public to buy the Ivanka Trump brand – and faced widespread criticism that she had overstepped ethics regulations. The White House press secretary, Sean Spicer, said Conway had been “counseled”.

On Saturday, Trump said on Twitter that the media had “abused” his daughter.

In New York, protests against the Trump presidency have rippled through the fashion industry’s market week. Calvin Klein played David Bowie’s This is Not America and a Mexican immigrant designer for LRS Studio showed underwear that carried the message: “**** your wall”. Public School’s Dao-Yi Chow and Maxwell Osborne sent out red Trump-esque baseball hats spelling out: “Make America New York.”

Senior industry figures, including Vogue’s Anna Wintour and LVMH chief executive Bernard Arnault, have, however, held meetings with the president. Vogue plans to feature Melania Trump on its cover.

Designers including Dior and Ralph Lauren have dressed the first lady. Others, including Marc Jacobs, have said they will not.Read more at:http://www.marieaustralia.com | www.marieaustralia.com/cocktail-dresses
judy smith
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