Earlier this summer, Kim Kardashian announced her plans to get into the shapewear business. But it didn't take long for her latest project to backfire. Originally slated to be called “Kimono Solutionwear,” the name stirred up so many accusations of cultural appropriation that she walked back her initial announcement. She explained that she would be 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 said at the time. “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.”
And well, the wait is finally over. On Monday, Kim tweeted that she's made a decision about the new name.
"My fans and followers are a huge inspiration to me — I'm always listening to their feedback and opinions, and am so grateful they shared their ideas for a new brand name," Kim tweeted. "After much thought and consideration, I'm excited to announce the launch of SKIMS Solutionwear™."
My fans and followers are a huge inspiration to me – I’m always listening to their feedback and opinions, and am so grateful they shared their ideas for a new brand name. After much thought and consideration, I’m excited to announce the launch of SKIMS Solutionwear™ pic.twitter.com/3bV5MwblDr— Kim Kardashian West (@KimKardashian) August 26, 2019
She also said the line will be available for purchase beginning September 10. It will be available in sizes ranging from XXS to 5XL.
“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 stylized 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.