The hashtag #KimOhNo goes viral as the star comes under criticism for cultural appropriation.

Back before they were married, Kanye West told Kim Kardashian that he would take her to Japan, and after their first visit to the country together back in 2017, the two have been vocal about their love for all things Japanese.

This love for Japan has extended to their style philosophy, with Kanye even sending his team over to buy dozens of products from Japanese convenience stores, borrowing their sleek, minimalist packaging ideas for his creative company DONDA.

Now his wife is borrowing from Japanese culture for her own creative endeavour, trademarking the brand “kimono” for a new line of shapewear, which was announced on social media on 25 June.

View this post on Instagram

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. I would always cut up my shapewear to make my own styles, and there have also been so many times I couldn’t find a shapeware color that blended with my skin tone so we needed a solution for all of this. The third pic is the solution short. I developed this style for all of those times I wanted to wear a dress or skirt with a slit and still needed the support. Introducing Kimono Solutionwear™ for every body. Coming Soon in sizes XXS – 4XL in 9 shades. I can’t wait for you to feel this fabric!#KimonoBody @kimono Photos by Vanessa Beecroft

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

▼ The Kimono website and official Instagram account were also launched on the same day.

As soon as the announcement was made, people from around the world began slamming Kardashian West for her decision to trademark the name “kimono”, given that the word actually refers to a traditional Japanese garment that’s already been around for centuries.

People accused the 38-year-old of cultural appropriation, and as Japan started to hear news of the brand name, the backlash grew even stronger, to the point where the hashtag #KimOhNo began trending.

Japanese people took to social media to protest in their kimonos, asking Kardashian West to change the name of her range, and pointing out that kimono are precious formal garments, not figure-hugging underwear.

Kardashian West says she chose to name the collection “Kimono” because of its association with her own first name, Kim. However, people in Japan are angry that an American celebrity is showing such disrespect for their national costume, which is imbued with important cultural significance.

▼ Here in Japan, kimono are worn to celebrate special occasions such as births

Coming of Age days, when children become adults at the age of 20.

▼ And weddings

▼ Kimono are so important that they’re often passed down from generation to generation as well.

Many feel that using the name “kimono” is like taking the kimono away from Japanese people.

The significance of the negative backlash in Japan is best summed up with this comment online from Twitter user @marikoaustin:

“Japanese people have been pretty forgiving in the past when people have used kimono in ways that Japanese Americans have seen as cultural appropriation. So when even the Japanese get angry about this, YOU! MESSED!! UP!!! #KimOhNo”

Understandably, a foreigner setting up a company with the name of a country’s national costume is problematic to say the least. And while Japanese people are happy to see foreigners wear kimono as a sign of interest in and respect for their culture, using the word kimono for a range of underwear that has nothing to do with Japanese culture, and just because it sounds like your name, shows no respect for the culture from which it has been taken.

To make matters worse, Kardashian West is currently in the process of trademarking the words “Kimono Body”, “Kimono Intimates” and “Kimono World” as well. Given the backlash over the new brand name, Kardashian West will have to think carefully about how her business decisions will play out in the original “kimono world” of Japan if the release ever reaches Japanese shores.

Source: Hachima Kikou
Featured image: Instagram/kimono
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