Days after announcing the launch of her new shapewear line, Kim Kardashian West said that she will be changing the name of the Kimono brand.
Kardashian West faced a storm of criticism over the name of the brand, with critics complaining her choice of “kimono” disrespected Japanese culture and disregarded the significance behind the traditional outfit.
“I am always listening, learning and growing – I so appreciate the passion and varied perspectives that people bring to me,” Kardashian West wrote on Twitter. “When I announced the name of my shapewear line, I did so with the best intentions in mind.”
Yuka Ohishi, a San Francisco-based videographer who helped spread the hashtag #KimOhNo, decrying the brand’s name.
In the days following the brand’s launch, Ohishi tweeted statements like, “Our traditional garment is not spandex. It is not a beach cover up. It is not something you should use to make a cute pun with your name and slap on a trademark.”
Ohishi told the Guardian she hadn’t been expecting Kardashian West to give in to the pressure.
“Given her and her family’s past of appropriating cultures, I had little hope that she would reconsider the brand name,” Ohishi said.
“I am annoyed that there was no apology, but I think this is still one of the best outcomes possible from the horrible situation,” Ohishi added. “[Kardashian West] says she has respect for the Japanese culture, but this was just simply not the right way to express that and make ‘a nod’ to it.”
Ohishi hoped that in the future, celebrities and brands would think twice and “do their research to understand what cultural significance items or concepts have”.
“Diversity and representation is very different from cultural appropriation, and it’s going to be an ongoing conversation for all of us,” she said.
Daisaku Kadokawa, the mayor of Kyoto, wrote a letter to Kardashian West last week, asking her to reconsider the trademark on Kimono. His staff is working to register “Kimono Culture” on UNESCO’s intangible cultural heritage list, he said.
“Kimono is a traditional ethnic dress fostered in our rich nature and history with our predecessors’ tireless endeavours and studies, and it is a culture that has been cherished and passed down with care in our living,” Kadokawa wrote.
“We think that the names for ‘kimono’ are the asset shared with all humanity who love kimono and its culture therefore they should not be monopolized.”
Kardashian West has not yet announced what she will be renaming the shapewear line.
The reality TV star and trainee lawyer’s new line is a collection of skin-tone colored shapewear that she claimed to have been working on for a year. Kardashian West provided no explanation for the use of the word “kimono”, but it appeared to be a play on her first name.