Kim Kardashian is facing backlash after she announced the launch of her new clothing line name Kimono. The reality star is being accused of cultural appropriation for using the name of a traditional Japanese garment worn by men and women for nearly 1400 years.
Earlier this week Kim Kardashian announced the launch of her new shapewear line named Kimono. Kardashian announced on Instagram with a caption that read,
“Finally I can share with you guys this project that I have been developing for the last year.I’ve been passionate about this for 15 years. Kimono is my take on shapewear and solutions for women that actually work.
I would always cut up my shapewear to make my own styles, and there have also been so many times I couldn’t find a shapeware color that blended with my skin tone so we needed a solution for all of this. The third pic is the solution short. I developed this style for all of those times I wanted to wear a dress or skirt with a slit and still needed the support. Introducing Kimono Solutionwear™ for every body. Coming Soon in sizes XXS – 4XL in 9 shades. I can’t wait for you to feel this fabric!”
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Finally I can share with you guys this project that I have been developing for the last year. I’ve been passionate about this for 15 years. Kimono is my take on shapewear and solutions for women that actually work. I would always cut up my shapewear to make my own styles, and there have also been so many times I couldn’t find a shapeware color that blended with my skin tone so we needed a solution for all of this. The third pic is the solution short. I developed this style for all of those times I wanted to wear a dress or skirt with a slit and still needed the support. Introducing Kimono Solutionwear™ for every body. Coming Soon in sizes XXS – 4XL in 9 shades. I can’t wait for you to feel this fabric!#KimonoBody @kimono Photos by Vanessa Beecroft
Kardashian’s statement indicated that she trademarked the word Kimono, which left many people outraged. According to Britannica, the Kimono has been worn in Japenese culture since the Early Nara period between 645-710. For more than a thousand years, the kimono has been a symbol of Japanese culture and worn primarily by women as an outer garment.
According to the Victoria and Albert Museum, the kimono became popular in the 15th century. The samurais, the ruling military class, were the most common people to wear the kimono. By the 1800s, men began wearing western attire. However, the kimono became a staple fashion for women inside and outside the home.
Today most people in Japan wear western/modern clothing. However, there has been a resurgence of the kimono in modern Japan. While some see the kimono as a symbol of the oppression of women in Japan, others wear kimonos as a part of their everyday wardrobe.
Naturally, individuals from Japan and of Japanese descent were outraged by her choice to trademark the name Kimono. Additionally, many people responded to Kardashian on Instagram and reminded her that a kimono is not underwear. Many seemed angered that she would not only take the name but attribute it to intimate apparel.
On Twitter and Instagram, the hashtag #KimOhNo was used to protest Kardashian’s new clothing line. Japenese women shared photos of themselves wearing kimonos and shared the meaning of the garment with others.
Despite the international outrage, Kim Kardashian refused to change the name of her shapewear line. The New York Times spoke with Kardashian, and she told the paper,
“Ms. Kardashian West said in her statement that she has no plans “to design or release any garments that would in any way resemble or dishonor the traditional garment.” She also has no plans to respond to the reaction by changing the name.
“My solutionwear brand is built with inclusivity and diversity at its core and I’m incredibly proud of what’s to come,” she said. That includes bras, briefs, shorts and bodysuits, among other undergarments.”
Kim downplayed the fact that she trademarked the word Kimono.
“Filing a trademark is a source identifier that will allow me to use the word for my shapewear and intimates line but does not preclude or restrict anyone, in this instance, from making kimonos or using the word kimono in reference to the traditional garment,” Ms. Kardashian West said in the statement.
Kardashian’s statements did not seem to quell the anger felt by Japenese men and women. A petition started on Change.org urged people to stop the blatant disrespect by Kardashian to the Japenese culture.
“Kim Kardashian West (@kimkardashian) filed trademarks for “Kimono Body”, “Kimono Intimates” and “Kimono World”. She has trademarked a word of huge cultural significance in Japanese culture.
As a Japanese person, I wear Kimono everyday, and I do not wish to share the word with an underwear brand. “Kimono” means “clothing” in Japanese.
This is our culture, and I would like to show how many of us do not appreciate this!
Please sign the petition and together, we will take action to change this horrible cultural disrespect.”
By the time of publication, the petition had more than 30,000 signatures. The petition does not make clear how they intend to resolve the situation.
The Kardashian family has a long history of making poor decisions related to culture and society. Earlier this month, Kylie Jenner hosted a “Handmaid’s Tale” party where guest dressed as handmaids which are women that are repeatedly raped. Kim sported cornrow braids last year that angered many in the African American community.
Based on the reactions online, Kim’s response will likely not win over those angered by her choice to name her line Kimono. Kim may have seen the word as a fun play on her name, but she failed to realize the significance of the word to the Japenese people.
Going by past behavior of the Kardashian family, we should likely expect no apology, no change, and no learning for her choice. If you have enough money and followers on Instagram, you can get away with everything.