Kim Kardashian Responds to Cultural Appropriation Backlash Over 'Kimono' Shapewear Name
Kim Kardashian announced her newest venture — a lingerie and shapewear brand — earlier this week
“Finally I can share with you guys this project that I have been developing for the last year,” Kardashian West, 38, wrote on Instagram on Tuesday. “I’ve been passionate about this for 15 years. Kimono is my take on shapewear and solutions for women that actually work.”
The collection consists of bikini briefs, thongs, bras, waist trainers, body suits, thermal leggings and more, retailing from $22 to $98. They will be sold in sizes XXS to 4XL and in nine different tonal colors at launch, with even more shades coming as the brand continues to expand.
After Kardashian West’s announcement, many social media users criticized her use of the word “kimono,” a traditional Japanese clothing item, as the name of her new brand.
“Anyone else mad that Kim K really has a new brand called ‘Kimono’????” one Twitter user asked. “Like?? How is her shapewear even connected to Japan? I’m mad.”
“First of all everyone needs to understanding [sic] that her calling it ‘kimono intimates’ is an example of cultural appropriation, given she is not one bit Japanese nor oriental Asian, and that’s why [it] is insulting,” another user wrote when news of her Kimono trademark broke in 2018. “A kimono is not just a garment, there’s an entire meaning behind it, and to pathetically call it what Kim has called it really irritates me.”
A third Twitter user questioned: “Why’s it called kimono if that’s a completely different style of clothing. I get that you’re incorporating your name but kimono is the name of a traditional (and cultural) Japanese robe.”
“So many words in the world and you had to pick kimono,” another user added.
As social media backlash continued, Kardashian West gave a statement to The New York Times on Thursday to further clarify her use of the word. She said Kimono was meant to be “a nod to the beauty and detail that goes into a garment” and she does not plan on changing the name or design any items that “resemble or dishonor the traditional garment.”
“I understand and have deep respect for the significance of the kimono in Japanese culture,” she said in her statement. “My solutionwear brand is built with inclusivity and diversity at its core and I’m incredibly proud of what’s to come.”
Social media users also expressed their disappointment that Kardashian West did not include models of diverse sizes in her announcement post.
“Love this Kim,” one Instagram commenter wrote. “Been waiting for you to drop this forever. Would love to see models who aren’t traditionally thin/toned to show these products. Would love to see people with rolls and folds wear these and feel confident too.”
“Where are the plus size models?” a Twitter user asked, alongside three crying emojis.
The concept for Kimono came to Kardashian West from her own personal experiences enhancing her figure, and she quickly noticed a gap in the market once she found herself altering pieces at home to achieve exactly what she wanted.
“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 shapewear color that blended with my skin tone so we needed a solution for all of this,” she said on Tuesday.
This isn’t the first time the Keeping Up with the Kardashians star has been accused of cultural appropriation.
In 2018, the KKW Beauty mogul responded to the backlash she faced after she famously styled her hair in Bo Derek-inspired braids and sported cornrows at the MTV Movie and TV Awards, saying that her braided hairstyles came from a “real place of love and appreciation.”
Kimono’s entire range of shapewear and lingerie launches later this summer at Kimono.com.