Gucci Extends Lease in Trump Tower

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The day President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris were inaugurated in Washington, D.C., Melania and Donald Trump stepped off Air Force One in South Florida, bound for the confines of the Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach.

He wore a typically boxy suit of indeterminate origin. She wore an orange and blue, boldly patterned $3,700 Gucci caftan that came with as much symbolism as the famous “I really don’t care, do u” jacket she put on back in 2018 on a trip to visit children at a border detention center in Texas.

With its relaxed lines and orange hexagons recalling a David Hicks carpet, the new dress telegraphed the idea that Mrs. Trump was entering into a new role as a person of leisure, seemingly without a care. It also was a worldwide advertisement, unwitting or not, for a brand that has substantial ties to the Trump business.

For the past 14 years, Gucci has leased 48,667 feet at the base of Trump Tower in Midtown Manhattan, making it the building’s biggest commercial tenant.

The players involved, however, are not talking about it publicly.

A filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission in 2012 related to the Trump Organization’s finances described Gucci as taking a 20-year lease back in 2006. Gucci paid $384.40 per square foot each month in rent. This amounts to an annual base rate of $18.7 million and accounts for about two-thirds of the total $29.53 million the Trump Organization earns annually from its commercial tenants there, according to the filing.

Gucci’s discretion notwithstanding, it’s far from clear that news of the renegotiation might affect sales. The fashion industry tends to be politically liberal, but sometimes business is just business and aesthetics outweigh politics.

Oscar de la Renta bounced between first ladies with diametrically opposed worldviews. James Galanos pledged his allegiance to Nancy Reagan despite the catastrophic neglect of AIDS by her husband’s administration. In 2019, Bernard Arnault, whose company LVMH owns Tiffany, was joined by Mr. Trump at a Louis Vuitton factory in Texas and posed with him for photographs.

But Mr. Trump’s divisive behavior, especially since the pandemic began and the election, has bolstered the resolve of activists denouncing him. Brands are more sensitive than ever to the threat of boycotts. Companies including Nike and Twitter have aligned themselves with the Black Lives Matter movement.

The latest incarnation of Gucci was more racially inclusive than most high-end fashion brands.

Shortly after Mr. Michele became its lead designer and began doing away with an haute and self-consciously snobby aesthetic for an ironic, referential style that could perhaps be described as Etsy Luxe, the company did an ad campaign with all Black models.

But it has also misstepped.

Still, few people directly involved with the fashion world seem eager to address the possible controversy. Editors such as Samira Nasr of Harper’s Bazaar, Nina Garcia of Elle and Anna Wintour of Vogue have positioned themselves as stewards of racial justice. But they also rely on Gucci for advertising. Representatives for them all declined to comment. Mr. Day did not respond to a request for comment.

Jeremy O. Harris, the author of “Slave Play,” has had a contractual relationship with the house since November 2020. In general, such arrangements involve wearing a brand’s clothes at public appearances and getting to keep them afterward. “I take a lot of pride in my relationship with them, having met the people and seen how they really listen and are trying to change,” he said in an interview last Friday. And “while there are few real estate moguls who have risen to the level of semi-fascist leader like Trump, from what I do know, they are pretty much all deeply compromised people.”

Still, Mr. Harris acknowledged, “this is complicated.”

Luckily, he added, “I really only go to the Wooster Street store.”

Ben Protess and Vanessa Friedman contributed reporting.

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