July 5th, 2019 | Updated on May 25th, 2020
Recently, Kim Kardashian West faced outrage over using the name of Japanese Kimono to sell her latest shapewear. She was accused of appropriating an item which is central to Japanese culture.
As per her Tweet, she had been developing this project for 15 years:
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.
Photos by Vanessa Beecroft pic.twitter.com/YAACrRltX3
— Kim Kardashian West (@KimKardashian) June 25, 2019
Bowing to the pressure, she has announced to make changes to her Kimono shapewear brand. She has announced that she will never use Kimono word that she had trademarked under Kimono Intimates, Inc., Kimono Body and Kimono World.
Being an entrepreneur and my own boss has been one of the most rewarding challenges I’ve been blessed with in my life. What’s made it possible for me after all of these years has been the direct line of communication with my fans and the public. pic.twitter.com/IB5cto7Mlj
— Kim Kardashian West (@KimKardashian) July 1, 2019
Here is most Japanese opinions.
I was thinking that “cultural appropriation” is myth.
But this issue is totally cultual appropriation. pic.twitter.com/abBESQeddR
— Machu with p⚪︎⚪︎r English (@machurike) July 1, 2019
She knows how to make headlines to promote a good. She barely covered her modesty for a Cherry Blossom ad. But making headlines for plagiarism is a different thing as it could evoke backlash that really matters.
The backlash included the trending Twitter hashtag #KimOhNoKim:
Kim, I’m sure your shapewear’s nice, but please don’t take the name of a beautiful, traditional Japanese wardrobe and use it for your undies. This is me in various kimonos over the years. Hairstyle may not be traditional, but my kimonos sure were! 👘 #KimOhNo pic.twitter.com/5Z4uKwro6B
— Yoko Moncol (@NotLikeYokoOno) June 26, 2019
World, this is KIMONO, a traditional Japanese Garment.
Gorgeous and beautiful, isn’t it?
— 𝐑𝐞𝐢🥀in🇩🇪 (@neko_in_vitro) June 26, 2019
One Twitter user even showed her grandmother’s kimonos under the hastag #KimOhNo
These are my grandmother’s kimonos. Some of these are dyed and embroidered by herself. When I was child, I loved watching she embroidered on kimono cloth. My grandmother who makes beautiful embroidery is also beautiful and I always felt it magical. #KimOhNo pic.twitter.com/29v3pzCGDn
— Ginji_GoldFish (@Ginji_GoldFish) June 26, 2019
History of Japanese Kimonos
- “kimono” was the Japanese word for clothing
- Now, the word is being referred to traditional Japanese clothing
- Popularity of Kimonos waned with the import of western dresses, but vising tourists still love to dress in the Kimono
- There are different types of kimono for different occasions and seasons.
- Lined (awase) kimono, traditionally made of silk but sometimes wool or synthetic fabrics, are worn during the cooler months.
- Women wear kimono when they attend traditional arts, such as a tea ceremony or ikebana class.
- Traditionally, the art of putting on a kimono was passed from mother to daughter
- For many Japanese people, wearing a kimono is a way of maintaining a connection with history, culture and one’s sense of being Japanese
- The kimono has influenced the ideas of many designers, providing inspiration for new fashion resources
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Recent History of Fashion’s Cultural Appropriation Problem
Kim is not the only designer who have faced accusations of cultural appropriation.
- Isabel Marant faced similar accusation in 2015. She was accused of plagiarizing the traditional Mexican blouse.
- In 2017, Gucci showed white models in Sikh-styled turbans
— Avan Jogia (@AvanJogia) February 22, 2018
- Vogue was accused of cultural appropriation in 2017 for dressing Karlie Kloss as a geisha.
Karlie for Vogue US – March 2017 pic.twitter.com/Pbo9rssT8p
— 𝖻𝖾𝗌𝗍𝗄𝗄𝗉𝗂𝖼𝗌 (@bestkkpics) February 14, 2017
- Vogue did the same thing in 2018 when it showed Kendall Jenner with an ‘afro’
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Fifteen years and 150 finalists later, the @CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund prize has created global stars, local heroes, a must-watch New York Fashion Week, and, most important, a true sense of community among designers of all ages and backgrounds—all with differing aesthetic and commercial aspirations—who communicate, collaborate, and essentially care for one another through the fun and not-so-fun times. Laura Vassar Brock—one of the founders of 2016 #CVFF winner Brock Collection—says, “We spoke to a few friends who had gone through it, and they all said the same thing: that the Fashion Fund is a life-changing experience. And indeed it was!” Tap the link in our bio to learn more. Photographed by @mikaeljansson, styled by @tonnegood, Vogue, November 2018
- Dior’s used white actress Jennifer Lawrence for its Cruise 2019 campaign. A white actress honoring Mexxican heritage did not go down well with some people.