Everyone is angry about Kim Kardashian’s ‘Kimono’ shapewear

KKW just debuted a collection of shapewear named ‘Kimono’ and Japanese people are not happy about it

Kim Kardashian West debuted her latest project today: a line of specially developed shapewear designed to suck and smooth all of your ‘problem’ areas. The collection has been dubbed ‘Kimono’ – and, unsurprisingly, people are not happy. 

“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,” she explained of the underwear on Instagram. Though the title is clearly a play on her name, soon after a huge number of people took to social media to call West out for disrespecting Japanese culture and flippantly co-opting the name of a garment imbued with hundreds of years of history. 

“Wow, @kimkardashian. Thanks for butchering Japanese culture!!! My culture is not your plaything. You don’t have any respect for people who are not your family, do you? In the 15 years developing this project, couldn’t you find a cultural advisor?” asked one Twitter user, while another wrote: “As a Japanese illustrator with an immense love for kimono, this absolutely breaks my heart. Your tasteless brand isn’t worth taking over an entire culture and history for. This ours, not yours.” Others have implored West to reconsider, using the hashtag #KimOhNo. 

While some outlets have reported that West has trademarked the word, meaning Japanese companies importing the garment to the USA would have to do so using a different name for the style, Zack Guzman of Yahoo Finance pointed out that her application for ‘Kimono Intimates’ was rejected and suspended in 2018, although she has since reapplied for the names ‘Kimono’ and ‘Kimono Body’. Though both applications are still pending, West has kicked off an IG with the handle @kimono with a series of Polaroids demonstrating styles from the collection, as well as a number of campaign images shot by Vanessa Beecroft. 

The news comes just after a few weeks after the Mexican government – yes, the actual government – called on Carolina Herrera to explain why she had used indigenous Mexican designs within her 2020 resort collection. The designer responded with a statement outlining her admiration for traditional Mexican artisanship, claiming she had been trying “to highlight the importance of this magnificent cultural heritage.” Meanwhile, the Mexican government are set to impose a law which would “tackle the plagiarism that different indiginous peoples and communities have suffered.” 

Kim Kardashian West has built a multi-million dollar empire based on her forays into fashion, beauty, and entertainment over the course of the last decade – but it goes without saying that the journey hasn’t been without its controversies (see: understatement).

From the time she called Flat Tummy Co’s weight loss lollipops ‘literally unreal’ – ideal for suppressing those very real and totally natural appetites! – to the moment she namechecked (the v caucasian) actor Bo Derek as the inspiration for her cornrows, West has incited the fury and disbelief of the internet countless times – right up until last week when she released a new line of KKW body make-up

So far West has stayed quiet in the face of the backlash sparked by the launch of Kimono. Will the Japanese government follow in the footsteps of the Mexican one and demand an apology? Watch this space.