Last time we checked, Kim Kardashian was quietly studying to be a lawyer. Little sis Kylie seemed to have taken over the role as the family’s main mogul, but Kim’s still trying to find new products to slap her brand all over.
This time, however, she caused an international incident with her new shapewear line.
If anyone can promote spandex that squeezes you into unnatural shapes, it’s Kim. Her shapewear–bodysuits and separates in a range of nude tones that look, if we’re being honest, a lot like her husband’s disastrous clothing line–will probably make millions of dollars. But first, it hit a little bit of a snag.
The problem was that Kim decided to call her line “Kimono.” And she filed a trademark for the word, apparently ignoring the fact that a kimono is a traditional Japanese garment that has a deep cultural significance and a history dating back more than a thousand years.
When the news broke about Kim’s ill-advised business decision, the hashtag #KimOhNo started trending on social media. Many people of Japanese heritage spoke out against using the name–and especially attempting to trademark it.
It was so bad that the mayor of Kyoto, Daisaku Kadokawa, issued an open letter to ask Kim to change her mind and to explain why her use of the word was such blatant cultural appropriation.
Maybe the outpouring of anger and dismay changed her mind. Or maybe it was the fact that the Japanese government stepped in to challenge the trademark. Japanese trade minister Hiroshige Seko announced that Japan will send officials to the US Patent and Trademark Office next week to discuss the matter.
Kim issued a sort-of-apology, acknowledging that she had made a mistake:
I am always listening, learning and growing — I so appreciate the passion and varied perspectives that people bring to me,” she wrote on her Instagram. “When I announced the name of my shapewear line, I did so with the best intentions in mind.”
“My brands and products are built with inclusivity and diversity at their core and after careful thought and consideration, I will be launching my Solutionwear brand under a new name. I will be in touch soon. Thank you for your understanding and support always.”
It’s hard to understand how Kim would be surprised by the backlash. Then again, this the family that throws Handmaid’s Tale themed birthday parties and hocks weight loss lollipops. Here’s a freebie, Kim: Just call your knock-off Spanx “Kurves” and call it a day.