Kim Kardashian slammed for exploiting Japanese culture for Kimono line

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Kim Kardashian West has not only launched a line of shapewear called “Kimono,” but has also reportedly filed a trademark for the word. 

 Kim, oh no.

Kardashian’s representative filed a trademark request for the word “kimono” for use on clothing, underwear, headwear, luggage, dog harnesses and...whips, among other items, including, wait for it, kimono. The application was filed on June 19.



“I’ve been passionate about this for 15 years,” Kim Kardashian tweeted Tuesday alongside an announcement for her new shapewear line, controversially named Kimono.

There’s a fun fact, too, apparently.



Japan, however, has been passionate about the kimono since it originated there in the Heian era, beginning 794 AD — millennia before Kardashian even arrived on the pop culture scene with her leaked 2003 sex tape.

The internet was quick to accuse the star of cultural appropriation of the traditional full-body garment.

“Basically, what you’re doing is creating a line of underwear and calling them, ‘traditional Japanese garments’,” tweeted Yuko Kato.

“My culture is not your underwear,” another critic tweeted.

To add insult to injury, Kardashian applied for a trademark of the word “Kimono” last April. This year, she’s applied for a new kimono-phrase once a month since March, and twice in June, with trademarks pending for “Kimono Body,” “Kimono Solutionwear,” “Kimono World,” and “Kimono Intimates.”

Some are suggesting Kim change the brand name to #KimOhNo instead.



But can she actually trademark a prevalent word like kimono in the United States? As patent attorney Kiyoshi Kurihara explains on Yahoo! News Japan, it is possible to trademark common nouns, but for specific products. For example, the word “apple” is trademarked for computers and phones. Kurihara points out that it would be possible to trademark the word “kimono” for computer software or furniture. The assumption is that the argument Kardashian’s lawyers could make is that the brand is based on her name or that her line of Kimono products are not actual kimono. That is at the center of people’s problem with the whole thing.

As of publishing, the English word “kimono” is trending on Twitter in Japan, and the reaction has not been good, with people in Japan worrying that the brand will overshadow the word’s real meaning, causing confusion and misrepresentation, or expressing anger at her attempt to take the word for profit.

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