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Ivanka Trump showcases her designs

/ 04:09 PM March 30, 2012

NEW YORK — Ivanka Trump staged her first fashion show to display the latest addition to her merchandise empire: an array of brightly colored scarf dresses, slim pants and tailored suits that hit stores a few weeks ago.

“This is such a validation of what I’ve been working on,” the daughter of billionaire real estate mogul Donald Trump told a packed audience before the Wednesday night show at Lord & Taylor’s flagship store in Manhattan. She wore cream-colored jodhpurs from the collection.

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The line, which ranges from a $50 top to $245 dresses, has been a hit. Lord & Taylor’s president, Bonnie Brooks, said 40 percent of the pieces delivered to the store have sold already, and it’s the designer brand customers are searching for most often on Lord &Taylor’s website.

Brooks, also president of Lord & Taylor’s parent company, Hudson’s Bay Co., said a new collection typically has a 5 percent sell-through rate. She said Trump’s clothes have appealed to a broad group of consumers, from women in their 20s to those in their 60s. And it goes beyond the Trump name, she said. Ivanka Trump is a mother and a business woman, and consumers relate to that, Brooks said.

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Trump, executive vice president of development and acquisitions for the Trump Organization, first forayed into retailing in September 2007 when she opened a luxury jewelry store on Madison Avenue.

The store expanded and relocated to Manhattan’s SoHo district last fall. Trump’s jewelry is sold nationwide at various boutiques for $3,500 apiece on average, including $5,000 diamond necklaces and $600 onyx and diamond earrings. Her second jewelry boutique opens in Beijing this summer, and four more are planned in China by 2015.

In spring 2011, Trump started selling handbags and shoes, but at prices more in line with her clothing: Pumps cost about $125, handbags about $150.

“You can’t fake diamonds,” Trump told The Associated Press in an interview Wednesday.

That is, there’s flexibility to offer high-quality and stylish clothing even if you can’t use crocodile, she said. Trump said she aims to fill a void she sees in department stores between “dowdy” and overly trendy.

Macy’s Inc. and Nordstrom Inc. stores also sell her clothing and accessories.

The business, excluding jewelry, is expected to generate $230 million in sales this year, and Trump’s goal is to build a $1 billion business, with expansion into children’s wear and other areas.

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“It’s all about execution and staying on message,” she added.

Trump says she’s involved in the design of the products — but don’t expect her to do the sketches: “I can’t draw.”

Instead, she said, she sends her design team pictures from magazines to help articulate what she wants.

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