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Kim Kardashian’s ‘Kimono’ brand under fire for cultural appropriation

Kim Kardashian arrives at the MTV Movie and TV Awards at the Barker Hangar on Saturday, June 16, 2018, in Santa Monica, Calif.
Kim Kardashian arrives at the MTV Movie and TV Awards at the Barker Hangar on Saturday, June 16, 2018, in Santa Monica, Calif. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP

Kim Kardashian has been accused of cultural appropriation after launching her new “shapewear” brand, Kimono Solutionwear.

The 38-year-old reality star took to Twitter on Tuesday to share the announcement for #KimonoBody, writing: “This is a new approach to shapewear. Offering real solutions in 9 shades and sizes XXS-4XL, @kimonobody celebrates and enhances the shape and curves of women.”

After her announcement, many people on social media said the trademarked brand disrespects the traditional Japanese clothing of the same name.

The kimono, considered the national dress of Japan, is a loose, long-sleeved robe usually tied with a broad sash called an obi. The kimono dates back to the 15th century in Japan.

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The kimono is now often reserved for special occasions such as weddings and is mostly worn by women.

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“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,” a Japanese woman named 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.”

Yasuno Yoshizawa, also known as Bunkaiwa, is a Japanese “cross-culture consultant” based in California, according to CNN.

She tweeted: “I feel very sad that the name ‘Kimono’ is being used to something completely different from what we Japanese know about it. Kimono is Japanese traditional clothes and we are very proud of its history and culture. I’m sorry but I feel this name choice is simply ignorant.”

Kardashian trademarked the Kimono brand last year in the United States and has also filed trademarks for “Kimono Body,” “Kimono Intimates” and “Kimono World.”

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Many people took to Twitter to criticize Kardashian for her choice of words, using the hashtag #KimOhNo.

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Kardashian responded to the backlash on Thursday.

“I understand and have deep respect for the significance of the kimono in Japanese culture and have no plans to design or release any garments that would in any way resemble or dishonour the traditional garment,” she said in a statement to The New York Times. “I made the decision to name my company Kimono, not to disassociate the word from its Japanese roots but as a nod to the beauty and detail that goes into a garment.”

She continued: “Filing a trademark is a source identifier that will allow me to use the word for my shapewear and intimates line but does not preclude or restrict anyone, in this instance, from making kimonos or using the word kimono in reference to the traditional garment. My solutionwear brand is built with inclusivity and diversity at its core and I’m incredibly proud of what’s to come.”

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This isn’t the first time Kardashian has been criticized for cultural appropriation.

In April, Kardashian was criticized for wearing a traditional Indian maang tikka head jewelry.

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“Sunday Service Vibe,” she captioned the photo of herself on Instagram.

Many people commented on the photo, asking: “Who is your stylist?!!” and “This is not a Sunday Service Vibe, it’s an Indian vibe.”

Another person made note that the maang tikka has nothing to do with Christianity.

“For those of you who don’t know, the maang tikka is a ceremonial head piece traditionally worn by the bride. Wearing white in India is traditionally reserved for funerals,” the person wrote in a comment on Kardashian’s photo. “On top of that she wore this to a Christian service. She probably thought it was just jewelry, but when that piece has literally been used for centuries wouldn’t you kinda think there must be some sort of significant meaning held towards it?”

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Sunday Service Vibe 📷 @elirusselllinnetz

A post shared by Kim Kardashian West (@kimkardashian) on

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In June 2018, Kardashian was also accused of cultural appropriation for wearing tight cornrow-style braids to the MTV Movie and TV Awards.

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“Kim Kardashian in these braids is exhausting. The most annoying part is that at this point she knows what she’s doing, she knows what cultural appropriation is and that it upsets people yet she still chooses to do it,” one person tweeted in response.

“Kim K calling her cornrows ‘Bo Derek’ braids is just as, if not more infuriating as when I wore my name plate necklace to work and someone called it a ‘Carrie Bradshaw’ necklace,” another Twitter user wrote.