Kim Kardashian West has angered people in Japan with the launch of her new shapewear brand dubbed ‘Kimono Intimates’.
The reality star said the label, launched on Tuesday (25.06.19), is inclusive and “celebrates and enhances the shape and curves of women”.
But Japanese people on social media have said the trademarked brand disrespects traditional clothing. The kimono, a loose long-sleeved robe typically tied with a sash, dates back to 15th Century Japan.
Considered the national dress of Japan, it is now mostly worn during special occasions. “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,” one Japanese woman, Yuka Ohishi, told the BBC.
“[This] 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.”
Kardashian West trademarked the Kimono brand last year in the US. She has also filed trademarks for “Kimono Body”, “Kimono Intimates” and “Kimono World”.
Kardashian West said on Twitter that there were “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”.
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Finally I can share with you guys this project that I have been developing for the last year. I’ve been passionate about this for 15 years. Kimono is my take on shapewear and solutions for women that actually work. 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 shapeware color that blended with my skin tone so we needed a solution for all of this. The third pic is the solution short. I developed this style for all of those times I wanted to wear a dress or skirt with a slit and still needed the support. Introducing Kimono Solutionwear™ for every body. Coming Soon in sizes XXS – 4XL in 9 shades. I can’t wait for you to feel this fabric!#KimonoBody @kimono Photos by Vanessa Beecroft
Many people have taken issue with the fact she trademarked a word of huge cultural significance in Japanese culture. Others were annoyed that the traditional garment now shares the same name as an intimate wear brand.
Some have been tweeting with the hashtag #KimOhNo. Others feared people might start to associate the kimono with Kardashian West, rather than Japan.
“I think Kim has so much influence on pop culture, I fear there will be people who only know the word kimono as her brand,” said Ms. Ohishi.
“I imagine it will have an effect on search results, hashtags if this brand becomes as powerful as her other ventures.”
But one kimono expert said it was ironic that it identifies itself with a garment that is the opposite of shapewear. “The [aesthetic] of the kimono is graceful, elegant and gentle. It is not overly revealing or figure-hugging. It wraps the wearer so they are not exposed,” Prof Sheila Cliffe from the Jumonji Women’s University told the BBC.
“If I made a bra and called it a sari… some people would be very annoyed. It shows extreme disrespect… [the Kimono] is an expression of Japanese identity. That word does not belong to Kim Kardashian.”
The latest label by Kardashian West touts itself as a size and diversity inclusive brand, carrying sizes from XXS to 4XL. It’s also available in nine shades. The underwear is designed to create smooth lines under clothing.