This Is Kim And She’s Wearing Kimono

And it is clearly not a Japanese dress. Do names still mean anything?


Kim Kardashian enjoys many descriptions, but imaginative isn’t one of them. Case in point: her debut underwear line, just announced, is called Kimono. And many people are not charmed. It’s obvious the name is a play on her own moniker, but it also happens to be the traditional clothing of Japan. We can’t say for sure if there is cultural appropriation here, since there is no material component, but many people seem to consider it so—enough that #KimOhNo quickly emerged, within hours of her Instagram and Twitter announcements. However we see it, it is ignorant of the lawyer-in-training to think that Anglicised words no longer have provenance, meaning, or cultural connection.

To be fair, Mrs West (her Mr, too) has a penchant for unusual, un-name-like names, such as those for her kids (the latest, Psalm! Is that religious or musical appropriation?). A mother, we suppose, can name her children anything she wants. But a line of underclothes? That’s quite another matter, especially when lingerie, even post-Victoria’s Secret fashion shows, is still linked to something not quite as mundane as bras and panties, never mind if they are sold as “shapewear” and known to her as “solutions”. To call them by a name that is a national dress not related to the namer is understandably insensitive. It’s like a Korean wig-maker calling a new range of blond bobs Cornrows. Who’s buying—you, Kim K?

Photo: Vanessa Beecroft

Update (1 July 2019): Bowing to public outcry, Kim K has announced that she will not used the trademarked name Kimono for her shape wear brand. Watch this space for the next name that she will come up with