'Kimono is not underwear' – Japanese unhappy with Kim Kardashian's name for new shapewear

Japanese took to social media on Thursday to protest against a new line of underwear developed by US celebrity Kim Kardashian named “Kimono”, with some terming it a theft of their culture that insulted the cherished traditional robe.

Kardashian on Tuesday announced she was releasing the line of shapewear she had been developing for a year, including both full-body garments as well as two-piece sets in several different colours, as “solutions for women that really work”.

But her use of the word “kimono,” which in Japanese means “thing that’s worn” and refers to full-length robes with sashes donned for formal occasions such as weddings and funerals, annoyed many because it is being applied to undergarments – and she has filed to trademark it.

“Kimono is not underwear! Stop trademark registration! Don’t make the word kimono yours!” wrote Twitter user Ruu, echoing a common theme.

Others said using the word was “a theft of traditional culture” and begged Kardashian to change the name, saying the underwear would sell just as well if it was called something else.

“This is the kimono I wore to my wedding,” wrote Masako Oi, over a photo of herself in a light-blue kimono patterned with flowers.

“I’d like Kim to imagine how she’d feel if someone treated her wedding, prom or baptism dresses as lingerie.”

A quiet protest was also spreading under the statement “This is kimono”, with both men and women posting photos of themselves and family members wearing kimono of various styles.

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Finally I can share with you guys this project that I have been developing for the last year. I’ve been passionate about this for 15 years. Kimono is my take on shapewear and solutions for women that actually work. I would always cut up my shapewear to make my own styles, and there have also been so many times I couldn’t find a shapeware color that blended with my skin tone so we needed a solution for all of this. The third pic is the solution short. I developed this style for all of those times I wanted to wear a dress or skirt with a slit and still needed the support. Introducing Kimono Solutionwear™ for every body. Coming Soon in sizes XXS – 4XL in 9 shades. I can’t wait for you to feel this fabric!#KimonoBody @kimono Photos by Vanessa Beecroft

A post shared by Kim Kardashian West (@kimkardashian) on

Finally I can share with you guys this project that I have been developing for the last year. I’ve been passionate about this for 15 years. Kimono is my take on shapewear and solutions for women that actually work. I would always cut up my shapewear to make my own styles, and there have also been so many times I couldn’t find a shapeware color that blended with my skin tone so we needed a solution for all of this. The third pic is the solution short. I developed this style for all of those times I wanted to wear a dress or skirt with a slit and still needed the support. Introducing Kimono Solutionwear™ for every body. Coming Soon in sizes XXS – 4XL in 9 shades. I can’t wait for you to feel this fabric!#KimonoBody @kimono Photos by Vanessa Beecroft

A post shared by Kim Kardashian West (@kimkardashian) on

Though kimono are a common sight on Japanese streets, wearing them can involve elaborate tucks and folding, particularly with a sash around the waist.

Some people, especially for formal occasions, employ the services of a professional kimono dresser such as Aiko Morita, 49, who said the use of the name for Kardashian’s garments could disturb people.

“People would accept it if the product was related to a kimono, but it’s got absolutely no kimono element, so I think it’s wrong,” she said.

Kozue Mae, an 82-year-old woman, echoed this, adding: “I want everybody in Japan to say ‘no’ to her.”

But not everybody was annoyed. Kazuko Yoshino, a 71-year-old woman, said it might even be good publicity for kimono.

“There are a lot of foreigners wanting to wear it,” she said.

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