Kim Kardashian released her Kimono shapewear brand just days ago and was immediately met with backlash on two fronts. First, people were put off by the fact that her launch campaign photos included zero plus-size women. However, the biggest critique was the fact that she named her brand Kimono (after a traditional Japanese robe), trademarked the word kimono, and bought the URL. 

Japanese people dragged Kardashian using the Twitter hashtag "#KimOhNo" to express their grievances with the fact that she would use the name of a culturally significant design to sell her undergarments. Revelist speculated that she likely wouldn't respond, because seven times out of 10, Kardashian lets backlash come and go without speaking about it one way or the other. 

Apparently, Mrs. West had time for this one. She delivered a pretty interesting response to the outcry in an interview with the The New York Times

Kim Kardashian announced her new Kimono shapewear brand, and the concern over the name was almost immediate.

Japanese people started the hashtag #KimOhNo. They also shared photos of themselves wearing their traditional kimonos. 

"Kim Kardashian wants to trademark the word kimono — something that bears cultural significance to Japanese people, and apparently yet again we’re just supposed to bend over and take it. Is it the most offensive thing ever? No. Can she easily find a new name? Yes," one person critiqued.

People are deeply bothered that she's attaching the name to sell shapewear, which has absolutely nothing to do with Japanese culture and everything to do with making herself richer.

"I usually don’t get upset about stupid [redacted] like this but Kim Kardashian went and TRADEMARKED the word Kimono (for her brand)... Like seriously go [redacted] right off," one person wrote. "THIS is a Kimono, not your [redacted] clothing line. People need to quit disrespecting Japanese culture, like ASAP."

The negative reaction was so strong that it actually prompted a conversation between Kardashian and the The New York Times

In a statement made to the media outlet, Kardashian shared that she does not plan “to design or release any garments that would in any way resemble or dishonor the traditional garment.” She also iterated, "I understand and have deep respect for the significance of the kimono in Japanese culture." That said, will Kardashian be changing the Kimono name? NOPE. She confirmed that Kimono will continue to be the name of her shapewear or "solutionwear" brand because of course it is.

Kardashian also took time to explain what her ownership of the kimono trademark actually means for others.

“Filing a trademark is a source identifier that will allow me to use the word for my shapewear and intimates line but does not preclude or restrict anyone, in this instance, from making kimonos or using the word kimono in reference to the traditional garment,” Kardashian said in the statement.

"The nuance was lost in the outrage," the New York Times wrote about her explanation. That said, it appears that neither Kardashian nor The New York Times are actually addressing the outrage for what it is. Of course, people know they can still make kimonos. Of course, people know they can still reference the traditional garment as a kimono. This statement seems to undermine the intelligence of the people who are rightfully challenging a white woman's use of a traditional Japanese word for her profit. 

The "nuance" isn't lost with this situation. 

The bottom line is, Japanese people do not think she had any business naming her shapewear brand Kimono in the first place, particularly since she's influential enough to name a brand "Poopity Scoop" and it would still bring in millions of dollars for her. What we're seeing with the New York Times breakdown of this and Kardashian's statement is a watering down of how Japanese people have felt about Kardashian's appropriative behavior. This reinforces how black people have been feeling about her and her family's moves all these years. 


We do want to note that Kardashian's trademark of the word kimono is limited. The Fashion Law broke it down: 

"One thing you definitely do not get [with a trademark] is a sweeping, no-holds-barred monopoly on the word (or logo) at issue," the site explained. "That is because a trademark registration only entails nationwide rights for use of a mark – and for the enforcement of that mark – in connection with the goods/services that you actually make/sell, and ones that could be deemed related. What else do you not get? You do not get the right to prevent others from using your trademark in a non-source identifying capacity. In other words, you can only prevent others from using your trademark if they are actually using it as a trademark."

Translation: Her kimono trademark is only associated with shapewear and other related products. She couldn't enforce her trademark right on, say, another brand that sells a floral kimono outerwear piece. 

Got it?

And yet, if you type, it goes to Kardashian's website. She has forever associated her name with a traditional garment and word from Japanese culture.

The legal explanation also doesn't change the fact that Japanese people's gripe is 100% with the fact that she's using the name to sell undergarments, and that once again, she's appropriating a piece of culture from people of color. That is the "nuance" that she didn't acknowledge in her statements about the matter. And yet, Kardashian's response is once again on-brand. She addresses bits and parts of the valid critiques with PR-formatted legalese while ignoring the key details so as not to admit what the truth is: She's a serial cultural-appropriator who really doesn't care at the end of the day.