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Kim Kardashian West at the Tiffany Blue Book Gala in October 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Steven Ferdman/WireImage)

Rethink

Kim Kardashian West to rename her new ‘Kimono’ shapewear brand after outcry

By WITW Staff on July 2, 2019

Kim Kardashian West says she plans to rename her new Kimono line of shapewear, after critics accused her of cultural appropriation, saying the name of the brand disrespected Japanese culture.

She announced the news on Twitter, noting, “My brands and products are built with inclusivity and diversity at their core.”

When she unveiled the line of shapewear last month, she said it was designed to offer “solutions for women that actually work.” The line, which includes bras, underpants, bodysuits, and one-legged shorts — for wearing under skirts with high slits — tries to be inclusive. It comes in nine different shades and ranges from sizes XXS to 4XL.

The new line, Kardashian wrote on Twitter at the time, “celebrates and enhances the shape and curves of women.” But many people of Japanese descent said the name Kimono is tantamount to cultural appropriation, divorcing a culturally significant and historic garment from its context. On social media, some expressed their displeasure by using the hashtag #KimOhNo.

San Francisco-based Yuka Ohishi, who tweeted about the controversy at the time, told CNN, “I was not very pleased by companies using the word kimono to market beach cover-ups and robes. And then Kim Kardashian went to a whole new level by simply using the word as a pun. Her line is not at all inspired by the Japanese kimono, pays no respect.”

The garment has its roots in the Heian period (794-1192) and eventually came to be known as a kimono, which means “wearing thing,” during the Meiji period (1868-1912). As Western influences began to creep into Japan, women were encouraged to wear kimonos as a link to the country’s traditional culture.

Today, most people in Japan dress in Western clothing, but the kimono remains symbolically important and is worn on formal occasions. “As Japan has come to define itself within the western world since the late 19th century,” according to the Victoria and Albert Museum, “the kimono has come to mark a boundary with the foreign, to stand for the essence that is Japanese.”

This is why people were upset to see the kimono attached to a line of lingerie that has nothing to do with the traditional garment. Fuel was added to the fire when news began to circulate that Kardashian trademarked the word “kimono,” although Business Insider reported that the trademark actually applies to a specific stylized font.

Read the full story at The Guardian.

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