Last week, Kim Kardashian announced a new line of shapewear called “Kimono”. We all know the original kimono as the national ceremonial dress of Japan. Kim’s “Kimono” looks nothing like the original article of clothing in any shape or form. On top of that, she had also tried to trademark “Kimono” and claimed that it was a twist on her name.
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.
Photos by Vanessa Beecroft pic.twitter.com/YAACrRltX3
— Kim Kardashian West (@KimKardashian) June 25, 2019
Many people, Japanese and non-Japanese, expressed their displeasure on social media with the news and soon #Kimohno was trending. Talking with BBC, a Japanese woman named Yuka Ohishi explained, “We wear kimonos to celebrate health, growth of children, engagements, marriages, graduations, at funerals. It’s celebratory wear and passed on in families through the generations. She just chose a word that has ‘Kim’ in it — there’s no respect to what the garment actually means in our culture.”
I’m honestly shocked at how dense you are, Kim. A kimono is a symbol of elegance, and it’s meant to show modesty, not accentuate your figure, and the way you’ve trademarked the name and used it for something totally unrelated is extremely obnoxious. #KimOhNo pic.twitter.com/dh0EZcpWqv
— ひな (@hinajp2) June 26, 2019
Even the Mayor of Kyoto, Daisaku Kadokawa, wrote an official statement to Kim asking her not to use “Kimono” in her trademark. He further explained the importance of the traditional dress in Japanese history and culture.
Cultural Appropriation is a serious issue and sadly many celebrities. Whether they’re aware of it or not, are some of the biggest offenders. It’s hard to tell if they think that certain things do not apply to them.
— homo is healthy 🌈 (@wwhyhun) June 26, 2019
And while money talks and has a bit of power, the strength of a single thought united on social media might be a bit stronger. On July 1st, Kim tweeted this:
My brands and products are built with inclusivity and diversity at their core and after careful thought and consideration, I will be launching my Solutionwear brand under a new name. I will be in touch soon. Thank you for your understanding and support always.
— Kim Kardashian West (@KimKardashian) July 1, 2019
As a brand, especially in today’s society, one should know their market and do their research. Consumers look to more than just what a brand makes. We also look at what the brand itself stands for and what beliefs it has. This is why the brand has to work hard at being appealing and making sure its foundation is solid and positive. It should not try to gain fans through shock value. And most importantly, the brand should not try to take an important piece of someone’s culture and try to use it for their own monetary gains. Cultural appropriation of any kind is never a good thing and no one, whether they have celebrity status or not, should ever think it’s okay.