Kim Kardashian managed to irritate just about everyone by trademarking the word "kimono," which is already a word.
What’s worse is that she’s using it to promote her own clothing products, threatening to usurp the actual traditional Japanese garment’s name.
People are outraged, but in a new statement, Kim wants to assure the world that she’s not trying to erase Japanese culture.
Kim Kardashian loves to play games with her name — that’s how the word Kimoji came to exist.
This time, she unfortunately went with Kimono — which is already a perfectly good word for a Japanese garment that has existed for centuries.
"Nice underwear," a Japanese editor for BBC wrote on Twitter. "But as a Japanese woman who loves to wear our traditional dress, kimono"
She continues: "I find the naming of your products baffling (since it has no resemblance to kimono), if not outright culturally offensive."
"Especially," she concludes. "If it’s merely a word play on your name. Please reconsider."
That more or less summarizes the criticism. Kim’s new trademark sounds to many like cultural appropriation, not appreciation.
In response to the tidal wave of backlash, Kim Kardashian has released a statement to The New York Times.
"I understand and have deep respect for the significance of the kimono in Japanese culture," Kim writes.
"I made the decision to name my company Kimono," she explains.
Kim clarifies that this was "not to disassociate the word from its Japanese roots."
"But," she continues. "As a nod to the beauty and detail that goes into a garment."
Kim adds that she does not intend "to design or release any garments that would in any way resemble or dishonor the traditional garment."
She’s suggesting that she’s not infringing upon any Japanese markets because she’s not making actual kimonos.
Based upon positive feedback that Kim has received from others like Chrissy Teigen, her products are essentially a new take on spanx.
"My solutionwear brand is built with inclusivity and diversity at its core," Kim writes.
"And," she affirms. "I’m incredibly proud of what’s to come."
Kim then goes into the technical details of why this trademark should not make anyone feel threatened.
"Filing a trademark is a source identifier," Kim explains. "That will allow me to use the word for my shapewear and intimates line."
"But," she emphasizes, it "does not preclude or restrict anyone, in this instance, from making kimonos."
So it’s not like when Monsanto copyrights a type of corn and then sues people who have it growing on their farms, even if it’s there by coincidence.
Kim promises that the trademark also won’t stop people from "using the word kimono in reference to the traditional garment."
Honestly, people sometimes blow trademarks out of proportion. This is a healthy dose of nuance.
This is just one example of an actual kimono, in case you grew up watching fewer Japanese cartoons than I did.
In the spirit of Kim’s clarification, I’d like to announce the launch of my new clothing line, Chicago North.
it will pair amazingly with my new fragrance line, Saint Psalm.
The launch of these lines will of course note preclude anyone from having those names for themselves or their children.
It’s just a fun way to acknowledge the original holders of that name. We’re sure that Kim won’t mind!
Note: we are obviously joking, though honestly those both sound like great names for product lines
Was this blown out of proportion, forcing Kim to hold the metaphorical hands of fans and walk them through how trademarks work?
Or was her focus on trademarks just an attempt to calmly deflect from the actual issue: cultural appropriation.
Kim could always make a more careful choice. It’s not like there’s a shortage of verbal puns out there.
Kimperial? Kimodo? Kimtrails? Kimsex? Kimbargo? Kimports? Kimperator? Kiminence?
There’s tons of stuff out there that doesn’t infringe upon anyone’s culture.
Unless Kim is deliberately trying to court kontroversy.