Kim Kardashian has been accused of disrespecting Japanese culture after she launched a new underwear brand named after a traditional piece of clothing.
Reality star Kim announced yesterday she will be bringing out Kimono Intimates as a shapewear line.
The 38-year-old entrepreneur said the brand ‘celebrates and enhances the shape and curves of women’, as she made the announcement on social media.
She shared three images from her Kimono Solutionwear shoot while posing alongside models, adding a lengthy caption to talk about her new venture that she said was ‘coming soon’.
But Japanese people say the trademarked brand disrespects the traditional 15th century kimono clothing.
Kim Kardashian announced on social media she will be launching a new range of underwear called ‘Kimono Intimates’
Kim Kardashian pictured in the Lower East Side, New York, yesterday. She has been criticised for bringing out a range of ‘kimono’ underwear
As part of the new range, Kim said the brand would include a shortened leg to be worn under a skirt with a slit in the side
One social media user wrote: ‘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. #KimOhNo.’
Professor Sheila Cliffe from the Jumonji Women’s University in Niiza, Japan, said the kimono was actually the opposite of figure-hugging shapewear.
She told the BBC: ‘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.
‘If I made a bra and called it a sari… some people would be very annoyed. It shows extreme disrespect. [the Kimono] is an expression of Japanese identity. That word does not belong to Kim Kardashian.’
Dating back to 15th century Japan, the kimono which literally means ‘thing to wear on the shoulders’ is a T-shaped wrapped garment with set loose long sleeves, tied with a sash.
Considered the national dress of Japan, it is now mostly worn during special occasions such as weddings and coming-of-age ceremonies, and is mostly worn by women..
A woman wearing a kimono crossing the street in front of the entrance to Sensoji temple in Tokyo’s Asakusa district
Kardashian said the new range of underwear ‘celebrates and enhances the shape and curves of women’
Those who tend to wear a kimono the most on a daily basis are older men and women, geisha and sumo wrestlers, who are required to wear traditional Japanese dress whenever appearing in public.
Kardashian trademarked the Kimono brand in the US last year under the names ‘Kimono Body’, ‘Kimono Intimates’ and ‘Kimono World’.
Many in Japan are upset the Keeping Up With The Kardashians star has trademarked a word that has such cultural significance for the country.
Announcing the launch on Instagram Kim wrote: ‘Finally I can share with you guys this project that I have been developing for the last year.
Japanese people took to social media to express their anger at Kim Kardashian for using the kimono name to sell underwear
The Keeping Up With The Kardashians star announced on Instagram her new range of shapewear named after the traditional Japanese garment
‘I’ve been passionate about this for 15 years. Kimono is my take on shapewear and solutions for women that actually work.’
Some have taken to Twitter to accuse the mother-of-four of ‘butchering’ Japan’s history and of cultural appropriation with the hashtag #KimOhNo.
One wrote: ‘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 yrs developing this project, couldn’t you find a cultural advisor? #KimOhNo #culturalappropriation.’
Another said: ‘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.’
One woman simply Tweeted: ‘Don’t steal our culture.#KimOhNo.’
While the elaborate outfits might appear to have little in common with the snug garb being offered by Kardashian, kimonos are not only often hugely expensive but known for being hard to wear.
Women frequently hire experts to dress them in kimono because the outfit requires seemingly endless nipping, tucking and strapping.
‘She’s been to Japan many times. I’m shocked. She has no respect,’ tweeted one social media user in Japanese.
‘I like Kim Kardashian, but please pick a name other than kimono if it’s underwear,’ wrote another.
‘The Japanese government should file a protest against Kardashian,’ wrote a third.