Kim Kardashian has been accused of cultural appropriation after launching her new “shapewear” brand, Kimono Solutionwear.
The 38-year-old reality star took to Twitter on Tuesday to share the announcement for #KimonoBody, writing: “This is a new approach to shapewear. Offering real solutions in 9 shades and sizes XXS-4XL, @kimonobody celebrates and enhances the shape and curves of women.”
After her announcement, many people on social media said the trademarked brand disrespects the traditional Japanese clothing of the same name.
This is a new approach to shapewear: Offering real solutions in 9 shades and sizes XXS-4XL, @kimonobody celebrates and enhances the shape and curves of women. Each piece is designed with soft yet supportive fabrics for everyone to feel their most confident. #KimonoBody pic.twitter.com/Cr81BqiLT4
— Kim Kardashian West (@KimKardashian) June 25, 2019
The kimono, considered the national dress of Japan, is a loose, long-sleeved robe usually tied with a broad sash called an obi. The kimono dates back to the 15th century in Japan.
The kimono is now often reserved for special occasions such as weddings and is mostly worn by women.
“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,” a Japanese woman named Yuka Ohishi told the BBC. “ shapewear doesn’t even resemble a kimono — she just chose a word that has ‘Kim’ in it — there’s no respect to what the garment actually means in our culture.”
Yasuno Yoshizawa, also known as Bunkaiwa, is a Japanese “cross-culture consultant” based in California, according to CNN.
She tweeted: “I feel very sad that the name ‘Kimono’ is being used to something completely different from what we Japanese know about it. Kimono is Japanese traditional clothes and we are very proud of its history and culture. I’m sorry but I feel this name choice is simply ignorant.”
I feel very sad that the name “Kimono” is being used to something completely different from what we Japanese know about it. Kimono is Japanese traditional clothes and we are very proud of its history and culture. I’m sorry but I feel this name choice is simply ignorant. #KimOhNo
— ヤス＠BUNKAIWA(ブンカイワ) (@bunkaiwa) June 26, 2019
Kardashian trademarked the Kimono brand last year in the United States and has also filed trademarks for “Kimono Body,” “Kimono Intimates” and “Kimono World.”
Kim Kardashian filed for a bunch of trademarks on the word "kimono" (even for actual kimono), which, if granted, would allow her to ban Japanese companies from using the word "kimono" in America. Somebody call Cool Japan ASAP. 😱😱 https://t.co/1OpWPt2lYJ pic.twitter.com/ieCzKfpeLW
— Tokyo Fashion (@TokyoFashion) June 25, 2019
Many people took to Twitter to criticize Kardashian for her choice of words, using the hashtag #KimOhNo.
— さと (@sato_kimono) June 25, 2019
— Tamlyn Tomita (@thetamlyntomita) June 25, 2019
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
— Yuka Ohishi (@0oyukao0) June 25, 2019
— Emi Satellite👏🧼草野絵美 (@emikusano) 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.
"Kimono" are not just clothes but are a symbol that evokes precious memories and important life events. #KimOhNo pic.twitter.com/gD2KrTzsLR
— Misako Oi (@misakohi) June 26, 2019
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
Thanks for BUTCHERING Japanese culture!!! My culture is not your plaything.
You don't have any respect for people who are not your family, do you?
In the 15 yrs developing this project, couldn't you find a cultural advisor?#KimOhNo #culturalappropriation https://t.co/OsDYVZxPhx
— 🌾🐰かすみん🦄✨#BlackLivesMatter✊🏽✊🏾✊🏿 (@liaoyingQQQi) June 26, 2019
"Enhances the shapes and curves"
This is the exact opposite of what a true kimono (着物) does. Also, to name underwear after traditional garments (often worn in formal situations)… I can only imagine how insulting this is for Japanese people. #KimOhNo #KimonoBody #kimno https://t.co/arc8E12u2H
— ホトっちゃん（最強）🐣 (@hototchan) June 26, 2019
Kimono: has a centuries long rich history and is deeply embedded in the traditions and culture of a country.
Kim Kardashian: OMg It hAs mY nAmE iN iT!#Kimohno
— Kyla Hsia (@kylahsia) June 26, 2019
Kardashian responded to the backlash on Thursday.
“I understand and have deep respect for the significance of the kimono in Japanese culture and have no plans to design or release any garments that would in any way resemble or dishonour the traditional garment,” she said in a statement to The New York Times. “I made the decision to name my company Kimono, not to disassociate the word from its Japanese roots but as a nod to the beauty and detail that goes into a garment.”
She continued: “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. My solutionwear brand is built with inclusivity and diversity at its core and I’m incredibly proud of what’s to come.”
This isn’t the first time Kardashian has been criticized for cultural appropriation.
In April, Kardashian was criticized for wearing a traditional Indian maang tikka head jewelry.
“Sunday Service Vibe,” she captioned the photo of herself on Instagram.
Many people commented on the photo, asking: “Who is your stylist?!!” and “This is not a Sunday Service Vibe, it’s an Indian vibe.”
Another person made note that the maang tikka has nothing to do with Christianity.
“For those of you who don’t know, the maang tikka is a ceremonial head piece traditionally worn by the bride. Wearing white in India is traditionally reserved for funerals,” the person wrote in a comment on Kardashian’s photo. “On top of that she wore this to a Christian service. She probably thought it was just jewelry, but when that piece has literally been used for centuries wouldn’t you kinda think there must be some sort of significant meaning held towards it?”
In June 2018, Kardashian was also accused of cultural appropriation for wearing tight cornrow-style braids to the MTV Movie and TV Awards.
— Kim Kardashian West (@KimKardashian) June 17, 2018
“Kim Kardashian in these braids is exhausting. The most annoying part is that at this point she knows what she’s doing, she knows what cultural appropriation is and that it upsets people yet she still chooses to do it,” one person tweeted in response.
Kim Kardashian in these braids is exhausting. The most annoying part is that at this point she knows what she’s doing, she knows what cultural appropriation is and that it upsets people yet she still chooses to do it because she knows it doesn’t upset the right ppl or cost her $$
— Anastasia Compton (@tranastasia_) June 17, 2018
“Kim K calling her cornrows ‘Bo Derek’ braids is just as, if not more infuriating as when I wore my name plate necklace to work and someone called it a ‘Carrie Bradshaw’ necklace,” another Twitter user wrote.
© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.