Kim Kardashian is being accused of cultural appropriation after naming her underwear range “Kimono”.
The entrepreneur and ‘Keeping Up With The Kardashians’ star launched her debut line of shapewear solutions yesterday. She has reportedly filed to trademark the word “Kimono” along with the phrase “Kimono body”.
She shared photographs of herself posing alongside models in the underwear range, which comes in a diverse range of styles, skin tones and shapes.
Yet – despite the brand’s inclusive approach, Kardashian appears to have overlooked one crucial detail, and has consequently upset a lot of Japanese people.
Finally I can share with you guys this project that I have been developing for the last year.— Kim Kardashian West (@KimKardashian) June 25, 2019
I’ve been passionate about this for 15 years.
Kimono is my take on shapewear and solutions for women that actually work.
Photos by Vanessa Beecroft pic.twitter.com/YAACrRltX3
Incidentally, this comes in the same month Kardashian appeared on her debut Vogue Japan cover.
The Kimono range, ostensibly a play on the star’s name, just so happens to share a moniker with a centuries-old Japanese garment – and the crossover has caused a backlash.
Responding to Twitter, one Japanese woman, Yuko Kato, urged Kardashian to “reconsider” her name choice.
Kato claimed Kim’s latest brand is “appropriating” Japanese culture for the sake of her brand.
Nice underwear, but as a Japanese woman who loves to wear our traditional dress,👘 kimono, I find the naming of your products baffling (since it has no resemblance to kimono), if not outright culturally offensive, especially if it’s merely a word play on your name. Pls reconsider— Yuko Kato (@yukokato1701) June 26, 2019
Basically, what you’re doing is creating a line of underwear and calling them, ‘traditional Japanese garments’. Is that what you’re aiming for? 👘— Yuko Kato (@yukokato1701) June 26, 2019
Or, are you intentionally taking a Japanese word of specific and extreme cultural significance, stripping away its meaning, and appropriating it for your brand? I do hope not, but intentional or otherwise, that will be the result. That’s why many Japanese are crying foul.— Yuko Kato (@yukokato1701) June 26, 2019
Kato isn’t the only person to voice her disappointment.
A number of Twitter users have weighed in, branding Kardashian as “tasteless” and “disrespectful” for her choice of name.
Absolutely tasteless and awful. You have ZERO respect to the Japanese culture, do you. What's wrong with you.— TrinityNYC (@TrinityNYC) June 25, 2019
I'm from Japan. For us, Kimono represents the beauty & elegance of the country's tradition. Your spandex underwear brand has nothing to do with it. I'm offended.
Why did you call YOUR BRAND “kimono”? This is cultural appropriation. I'm japanese. I'm disappointed in you.— 正気を失ったはと・しばらヒー (@810ibara) June 26, 2019
How DARE YOU try to trademark the word "Kimono"??? It is more disrespectful that I could ever imagine existing. SHAME ON YOU.— Ella~ Khaleesi of the harpies 🦅🔥 (@EllaLatinaMua) June 26, 2019
Some have shared pictures of themselves wearing kimonos for special occasions, to highlight the cultural and emotional significance of the garment.
Hi Kim, this is me wearing my mother’s Kimono that was inherited from her. Kimono is a Japanese traditional culture. Please stop using its name for your brand. As @mihoimiofficial suggested, it more makes sence to name Kimno instead. #KimOhNo #kimono pic.twitter.com/v5PAPl8tpL— Hummingfnfn (@sandel1123) June 26, 2019
This is #kimono I wore to my wedding. I'd like Kim to imagine how she'd feel if someone treated her wedding, prom or baptism dresses as lingerie.— Misako Oi (@misakohi) June 26, 2019
"Kimono" are not just clothes but are a symbol that evokes precious memories and important life events. #KimOhNo pic.twitter.com/gD2KrTzsLR
Kim, I’m sure your shapewear’s nice, but please don’t take the name of a beautiful, traditional Japanese wardrobe and use it for your undies. This is me in various kimonos over the years. Hairstyle may not be traditional, but my kimonos sure were! 👘 #KimOhNo pic.twitter.com/5Z4uKwro6B— Yoko Moncol (@NotLikeYokoOno) June 26, 2019
Some frustrated Twitter users have even taken to suggesting alternative names for the range that include Kim – highlighting there are a wealth of other options.
Kimono? 🙅🏽♀️🙅🏽♀️🙅🏽♀️ Could’ve gone so many ways, e.g:— Esther Cook (@mumofsoulnwhim) June 25, 2019
KIMOTION (Kim + Motion) A play on commotion (a disturbance), motion = movement;
KIMETIC (Kim + Kinetic), physics, energy an object has due to its motion;
Anything relating to MOVEMENT bc shapewear can often be restricting.
I'm here for this but Kimono? Traditional Japanese attire--not your shapewear brand. Kimtimate? Kardashape? Kimsets? Or just something without your name? https://t.co/BI880FmNDg— Michelle Contreras (@MichiContreras) June 25, 2019
This isn’t the first time Kardashian has been accused of cultural appropriation.
In January last year, she took to Instagram to show off her so-called “Bo Derek” braids – but was soon met with backlash on social media.
Twitter users said she was ‘trolling black women’ and that she ‘did not get [her] inspiration from white women’.