Do we really need to feign surprise when a Kardashian makes a poor decision? Some call it cultural appreciation, others call it cultural appropriation or cultural exploitation. One thing is certain, it’s awkward and feels exploitive to the point where even Kim Kardashian West realized that she made a mistake after announcing a line of shapewear called “Kimono.”
West introduced the brand, originally planned to be released in July of 2019, on Tuesday June 25, 2019 via social media and scheduled to launch in July 2019. When a good deal of social media users let West know they found her use of and attempt to trademark Kimono cultural appropriation, Kardashian West initially responded to the criticism with a statement that the name was “a nod to the beauty and detail that goes into a garment” and promised not to “design or release any garments that would in any way resemble or dishonor the traditional garment.” She made clear that she had no plans to change the name.
However, it was only days after Sono Fukunishi, a Japanese citizen and kimono designer started a petition that eventually gained more than 138,000 supporters stating that Kardashian West’s use of the name Kimono and her trademark application for the name represented “horrible cultural disrespect.”
Within days of announcing her new line, Kardashian West decided not to move forward with using the name Kimono, stating, “I understand and have deep respect for the significance of the kimono in Japanese culture.”
It appears that Kardashian West’s company’s trademark application for Kimono was stopped. The re-named product, called SKIMS, was released on February 5, 2020.