The Kardashian-Jenner family has their fingers dipped in a wide variety of business ventures, so it’s only natural that they should encounter controversy when some of these ventures are found to be fraudulent or problematic. Though recent attention has been focused on Kendall Jenner and her face wash routine, a new debacle has emerged, with Kim Kardashian West being accused of cultural appropriation for her Kimono shapewear line.
According to The Guardian, Kardashian West came under fire after announcing yesterday that her new line would be called Kimono, seemingly a nod to her own name--but people online quickly noted the name's connection to the Japanese garment kimono, and accused Kardashian of being culturally insensitive.
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
The tweet calling the reality star out, shown above, has accumulated over 3,000 retweets and over 23,000 likes at the time of this article. Another Twitter user expressed sadness that the word was being taken on in such a way, calling the name “ignorant.”
Kardashian West first debuted the Kimono line on Twitter yesterday morning, describing it as “my take on shapewear and solutions for women that actually work.”
"This is blasphemy against Japanese culture": Kim Kardashian’s new "Kimono" shapewear sparks outrage in Japan https://t.co/XqyqaxupKp— The Washington Post (@washingtonpost) June 26, 2019
Before Kardashian West became mired in the controversy, the kimono has long been a flashpoint for discussions about cultural appropriation, with many cultural critics and commentators noting that Western commercialized versions of the kimono reflect an objectifying and fetishizing view of Japanese culture.
This is not Kardashian West's first encounter with accusations of cultural appropriation--in the past several years, she has come under fire for utilizing styles and physical features from black culture as part of her marketed style.
It’s hard to draw the line between an innocent naming mistake and abject cultural appropriation, but we are glad that plenty of voices are calling for Kardashian West to be sensitive in her treatment of other cultures--especially when she’s making a profit.