Kimono or #KimOhNo: The internet reacts to Kim Kardashian’s new shapewear line
Cultural appreciation or appropriation?
Kim Kardashian has been on a roll with her business ventures this year, from an eyewear collaboration to her KKW Beauty brand which recently released a hot-selling body foundation and more. On Wednesday, the star took to Instagram to announce the launch of her new business—a shapewear brand, dubbed Kimono Solutionwear. In her caption, she shared that the project is something she's been passionate about for 15 years, and the collection will feature sizes XXS to 4XL in nine shades. It didn't take too long for the internet to react.
While Kim is no stranger to giving her brands catchy names that are a riff of her name (her Kimoji line, for example), she was quickly under fire for cultural appropriation. Kimono, which dates back to 15th Century Japan, is the country's traditional clothing, typically worn to "celebrate health, growth of children, engagements, marriages, graduations, at funerals. It's celebratory wear and passed on in families through the generations," as stated in an interview in a BBC story. And for the name of a sacred cultural piece to be disrespectfully and ignorantly misused—especially when it's related to undergarments—needless to say, it didn't sit well with the public. #KimOhNo was trending on social media not long after, and the Japanese, in particular, have expressed their anger and condemned the star on social media. Even the Mayor of Kyoto, Daisaku Kadokawa, issued a statement asking Kim to drop the trademark for her brand. In the letter, he writes, "Kimono is a traditional ethnic dress fostered in our rich nature and history with our predecessors' tireless endeavors and studies. It is a culture that has been cherished and passed down with care in our living. Also, it is a fruit of craftsmanship and truly symbolizes sense of beauty, spirits and values of the Japanese."
Amid the backlash, Kim Kardashian is standing by her decision to move forward with the brand name. She issued a statement via The New York Times saying, "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 dishonor the traditional garment. 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. 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."
Below are some of the internet's reactions towards the #KimOhNo controversy:
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
"Enhances the shapes and curves"— ホトトギス (@hototchan) June 26, 2019
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
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.
Kimono: has a centuries long rich history and is deeply embedded in the traditions and culture of a country.— Kyla Hsia (@kylahsia) June 26, 2019
Kim Kardashian: OMg It hAs mY nAmE iN iT!#Kimohno
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
What are your thoughts on this?