no kim, you can’t call your new brand ‘kimono’

The announcement of Kim Kardashian-West’s new shapewear brand has sparked outrage, especially in Japan.

by Mahoro Seward
27 June 2019, 12:16pm

Image courtesy of Kim Kardashian's Instagram

This article originally appeared on i-D UK.

When you think of the word ‘kimono’, do you think of a traditional Japanese garment endowed with centuries of historical significance? Or of a clumsy pun on Kim Kardashian-West’s name that would make for the perfect title for a line of ‘Solutionwear™’? The answer is indeed an obvious one, unless you are, well, Kim Kardashian-West.

In a show of almost-admirably self-indulgent ignorance, Kim Kardashian has announced the launch of ‘Kimono’, a new shapewear venture. Shockingly, the form-fitting underwear on offer bears very little resemblance to the wrapped silhouettes that immediately spring to mind on hearing the word. More shocking yet, it has been revealed that ‘Solutionwear™’ isn’t the only trademark Kim’s been gunning for, with applications filed for the names “Kimono Intimates” (since rejected), “Kimono Body”, and, literally, “Kimono”, effectively banning anyone in the US from marketing products using the terms if granted (spoiler: they won’t be).

Japan, home to the non-shapewear kimono, is not best pleased. "The [aesthetic] of the kimono is graceful, elegant and gentle. It is not overtly revealing or figure-hugging. It wraps the wearer so they are not exposed," Professor Sheila Cliffe from the Jumonji Women's University told the BBC, with Japanese reader Yuka Ohishi clearly stating that "[this] shapewear doesn't even resemble a kimono -- she just chose a word that has Kim in it.” In an act of global retaliation, Twitter and Instagram users, including London’s Victoria and Albert Museum, have even taken to playing the Calabasas queen at her own punning game with the hashtag #KimOhNo.

As tricky as it might seem, we gently suggest keeping a wide berth of revered cultural symbols when trying to find a name for your brand, Kim. Perhaps ‘Bikimi’ could work?

This article originally appeared on i-D UK.

Kim Kardashian
Cultural Appropriation