Kim Kardashian recently announced that she's getting into the shapewear business. But in less than a week, her latest project — originally slated to be called “Kimono Solutionwear” —stirred up so many accusations of cultural appropriation that she's walking back her initial announcement and renaming the yet-to-be-launched shapewear line altogether.
“I am always listening, learning and growing - I so appreciate the passion and varied perspectives that people bring to me. When I announced the name of my shapewear line, I did so with the best intentions in mind,” Kim tweeted Monday morning. “My brands and products are built with inclusivity and diversity at their core and after careful thought and consideration, I will be launching my Solutionwear brand under a new name. I will be in touch soon. Thank you for your understanding and support always.”
“I would always cut up my shapewear to make my own styles,” Kim wrote in her Instagram post sharing details about the launch. “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.”
"The mark consists of the word 'KIMONO' in a stylised font," says Business Insider. Trademark applications were also submitted for the phrases "Kimono Body" and "Kimono World."
"If the word or phrase is not a distinct one (like 'Swiftmas'), the would-be owner must be able to show the phrase has taken on a secondary meaning related to the brand," Fortune said at the time. "That’s why trademark owners can’t run around claiming to own basic blocks of the English language."
So while Kim K wasn't trying to single-handedly claim ownership of the word "kimono," the ire on social media continued to grow, especially given the historical importance and ubiquity of kimonos.
Kim Kardashian naming her shape wear Kimono and then trying trademark it as if there hasn’t already been something called a Kimono for literal centuries is real wild lmaoooooo— Daenerys (@Daeleon_Lamaia) June 26, 2019
Trademark law nuances aside, Kim's decision to name the line Kimono in the first place was really at the root of the controversy. After all, kimonos are traditional Japanese garments that have been worn for centuries and are highly revered within Japanese culture. They are most definitely not shapewear.
"[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," one Japanese woman, Yuka Ohishi, told BBC.
Many took to social media to share their disdain for the name, which they consider to be culturally appropriative.
"World, this is KIMONO, a traditional Japanese garment," one person tweeted with an image of an actual kimono. "Gorgeous and beautiful, isn't it? I love this Japanese beautiful traditional costume and it's sad that someone calls an underwear 'kimono.'"
Kim's original social media announcement featured a series of three photos shot by the Italian artist Vanessa Beecroft, who has regularly collaborated with Kim’s husband Kanye West (albeit not without some controversy). The first image shows a matching bra and panty set; the second spotlights a one-piece bodysuit; and the third reveals what Kim is calling the “solution short,” which is designed specifically for dresses or skirts that have a slit on one side.
“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,” Kim explained.
All of the pieces will be available in sizes XXS-4XL and in nine shades total. While Kim’s announcement didn’t include a date for when the line will officially drop, she said that it’s “coming soon.” Although now that Kim has officially addressed the critics and will need to carefully select a new name that doesn't offend an entire culture, the wait might end up being a bit longer than originally anticipated.