The Kim Kardashian shapewear controversy: what happened? ǀ Justine Leconte

Hi everyone, it’s Justine.
You know I don’t usually pick up on pop
culture topics on this channel and I certainly
don’t feed into the drama and gossip already
present on YouTube, because there is enough of it already.
So this video isn’t gossip, it is my opinion
& research on a fashion issue that has been
heavily discussed in the past 2 weeks, internationally.
Kim Kardashian has recently announced she
would launch a shapewear line. It caused an
Here is what really happened & why.
1. The context: Kim Kardashian’s new shapewear
Kim Kardashian is famous for her figure. She
has capitalized on it with an app, a cosmetic
line called KKW BEAUTY and other business
Now on June 25th, she announces the launch
of the line which, for me, makes most sense:
a shapewear line.
Let’s be clear: I am not in favour of her
and her family promoting a beauty ideal that’s
absolutely not attainable – since she only
achieved that body with the help of repeated
cosmetic surgery. I’m solely saying that
given her brand positioning, launching a shapewear
line makes sense.
Now the name: it is called KIMONO SOLUTIONWEAR™
(specific font). 1
Her name is Kim. Japan is trendy. Kimono robes
used as overgarments are trending, especially
in the US. The US are likely to be the biggest
potential market for the product. So you’d
think: great name, all boxes checked.
The line is even planned in 9 sizes and 9
shades, which means it is meant to be inclusive.
2. The Japanese reaction
Within 24 hours, the info spreads and the
backlash starts: many very annoyed Japanese
people comment under her Instagram photo:
“this is disrespectful”, “change the
name”, “how dare you use that name for
underwear”, “shame on you”.
If you are surprised by the reaction, it’s
because you are not Japanese. Let me explain:
Japan is a millenary culture, very sophisticated,
where “daily activities” such as flower
arrangements, tea drinking or getting dressed
have been elevated into true art forms and
are being taken extremely seriously. The kimono
garment is a symbol of the Japanese culture
and the subtility of putting one on includes
precise drapery… and NOT showing much skin
or body contours.
So there is a kimono (and everything is stands
for) and there is Kim Kardashian’s product:
body-con, showing quite a bit of skin & it
is an undergarment. All the opposite of an
actual kimono.
Turns out Kim has even filed a trademark request
for the name. And the Japanese think: how
dare you try to get the generic name that
describes a garment and is central to another
3. The legal story (which wasn’t mentioned)
Even before the announcement of the launch,
Kim Kardashian has requested not one but several
The word “kimono” in the specific font.
You can’t trademark a generic word but you
can trademark it in association with a font.
The name “Kimono solutionwear”.
The name “Kimono body”.
The name “Kimono world”.
Now let’s check what she wanted to protect
under the trademark “kimono” because the
trademark register is public:
Luggage, bags and purses. Lingerie, shapewear,
bras, kimonos… bikinis, and even socks & t-shirts.
It is defined very broadly and it includes
multiple products that are not part of the
line yet.
This tells us that the plans for the new brand
are clearly much bigger than just shapewear
and intimates.
4. The consequences
On June 29th (4 days after the launch announcement),
the mayor of Kyoto, Japan has written an open
letter to Kim Kardashian, demanding a name
change as well as the withdrawal of the trademark
application on the initial name.
A Japanese lady has started a petition on, which has crossed 137,000 signatures
at the time of filming.
There is a hashtag against the new line: #KimOhNo.
I must admit it’s catchy.
The backlash on Instagram is growing: over
46,000 comments (including many in Japanese).
Pretty much all the media outlets in the US
are now covering the controversy.
On June 27th, Kim Kardashian was still sticking
to her brand name and said to the New York
“Filing a trademark is a source identifier
that will allow me to use the word for my
shapewear and intimates line but does not
preclude or restrict anyone, in this instance,
from making kimonos or using the word kimono
in reference to the traditional garment”.
She is clearly playing on legal terms, here.
You know what? It’s hard to believe after
seeing all the trademark categories she applied
to… and since she even wanted to use @kimono
as the Instagram handle for her new line.
And once you have a trademark, you know, you
can always discuss its limits in court. It’s
not clearly defined so there’s room for
interpretation – especially if you have
the good lawyers.
Anyway. On July 1st, she pulled it back and
announced on Instagram that she would be changing
the name of her line.
Result on Instagram: even more likes on this
post than on the initial one.
5. My conclusion
Before I tell you what I really think, let
me just add in a few more pieces of information,
for context.
1. On July 4th: sale announced for her line
KKW BEAUTY – how practical for her beauty
line, that she just had 10 days of intense
buzz in all media…
2. She probably has not one but a full team
of lawyers behind her. In fact, SHE is currently
even studying law in California. I don’t
believe, for a second, that she didn’t know
the tricks of trademarking specific words
& how trademark law varies from one country
to the next.
3. On July 4th (same day as the beauty line
sale), she won a lawsuit against Missguided,
a British fast fashion brand, which tends
to use her image to market knock-offs, copycats
of her looks. She won 2.7 Mio. $. So she is
well aware of how much money you can make
through trademark law and intellectual property
4. It is not the first time that Kim Kardashian
causes an uproar through perceived cultural
appropriation and she knows how much press
coverage that can bring.
So here is what I think: I think she tried
to trademark the word kimono as much as possible,
no matter what she claims to defend herself,
and even though she knew it is actually a
generic word AND that is has a high meaning
in the Japanese culture.
The buzz generated means that the shapewear
line will get even more attention when it
finally launches under a new name – which
means lots of free PR.
And the timing, just before the sale of her
cosmetics, probably brought her quite a bit
of extra income as well.
I’d say this whole story is an orchestrated,
very advanced marketing strategy from a team
extremely experienced in the media field.
Ethics not so much. After researching this
controversy, I believe that if she could have
trademarked the word “kimono” alone, she
would have done it.
In fact, it is a strategy where she couldn’t
loose: either she gets the trademarks and
starts suing everyone over the word kimono
– or she gets the scandal and it brings
free PR.
And what about the Japanese public? I’m
guessing that Japan wasn’t a big potential
market for the shapewear, so it probably won’t
have a dramatic effect on the actual sales.
And in her 2nd Instagram post, she remained
very politically correct but did not apologize.
What do you think of this whole story? Did
you think that trademarking “kimono” might
be an issue? What if she had trademarked the
word “sari”? What would be a similar,
potentially problematic word in YOUR culture?
The business of fashion is wild, it baffles
me again and again.
Thumbs up if you enjoyed this video, though.
Thank you!
And if you’d like to watch more, here is
another one.
I’ll see you soon and until then, take care!

100 thoughts on “The Kim Kardashian shapewear controversy: what happened? ǀ Justine Leconte

  1. Lol this is nothing new for the Kardashian’s. First they ripped off looks and ideas from black culture ( for example: trying to claim they invented cornrows) and now here they go again. They’re a completely corrupt and vile family with absolutely no concern for anything or anyone besides themselves and money. I wish ppl would stop helping them stay in the limelight

  2. she insulted people through their culture and nobody cares. It's not fair. People can end up in jail for calling someone gay and insulting their sexuality why didn't she have to at least apologize for her disrespect… she is such a money hungry and I don't get how such a bad person can have fans.

  3. I would buy it, why people didn't in the past use that name in the way they think it is properly? It is her idea. Dont want to see stars don't look at the sky. Thanks for the video. I love the way you talk about information.

  4. I don't know why I like listening to this woman. I discovered her yesterday and now I am watching her other videos. She speaks and moves so elegant and her voice is really charming, as much as her smile. Maybe it's her Frenchness.
    I don't know, I really like her ☺️

  5. Can you do a video on “good” fashion brands and designers? I’d like to learn more about the ethical and sustainable brands that are out there.

  6. As much as I respect her for making her own fortune and helping our prison systems actually reintegrate the inmates into society, their beauty products are such a scam. I'm not bashing them for getting cosmetic surgery, but they are not naturally like that. Their underlying shapes may be natural but everything was done under the knife and they have access to amazing surgeons and dermatologists. I've never bought a Kardashian/Jenner beauty product and never will. Especially anything that has to do with weight.

  7. So the real issue is her bid to trademark a common word and common use word. Got it. She's definitely wrong for that.

  8. #OhnoKim I won’t be buying from you! Very clever but very disrespectful!
    Thanks Justine Le Conte for your thorough research and thoughtful take on this subject and everything you speak about. 🙌🏻

  9. I think that those kardashians are just dolls, they just do what they tell them, they are just puppets of something bigger behind them.

  10. This video is so ill-informed and incorrect it baffles me. It's very clear you have zero knowledge of how legal systems work and are trying to pass off that you do to those who don't know any better to fuel an agenda. The fact people are watching this and are agreeing with you without paying any mind shocks me.

  11. This is a great video, I totally missed the whole scandal somehow. But then again, I am not a fan of these people. I would love to se a video where you adress cultural appropiation, since there have been a couple mayor scandals regardimg cultural appropiation in the Fashion Industry.

  12. I can't stand the Kardashian-Jenner clan and all their minions, but this uproar is very unnecessary, it's just a name.

  13. I cannot imagine how disgusted you must be as a REAL designer watching bozos like the kardashian Jenner clan endlessly exploiting their lives for money, more money than they could ever spend.

  14. It's absolutely disgusting she tried to use the name let alone trademark it, but I'm surprised that it is not an automatic disqualifier.

  15. Kim has been called out for appropriation so many times now, this is just another one of her many faux pas. That revolting family only cares about schilling products to make a buck.

  16. Thank you for such in depth research on a topic that many of us would have remained oblivious of the ramifications!

  17. Halfway through the video, I was about to write on twitter what if she trademarked the word saree for underwear? And you just told the same thing at the end of the video!!!!Guess we thought alike at least for that bit 🙂 When I first heard it, I also believed that it could possibly be an advanced marketing strategy. Thank you Justine.

  18. I think Kim’s too smart and probably knew it wouldn’t be approved and planed to use the approved name instead. She used it to gain attention because even bad attention is good attention

  19. Bonjour Justine, another well researched and interesting video. No taking sides just giving the facts straight – Merci xx

  20. I was born with ASD (autism) and neurotypical behaviour is so confusing and mysterious to me. While I prefer comfortable clothing (sensory issues), I struggle with appropriate fashion that suites me. You’re videos are incredibly informative and I adore your well researched and logical approach. My sincere thanks to you for sharing your knowledge. You’ve provided invaluable information to people like me and others, that aids in navigating the vast world of fashion. Merci beaucoup!💕

  21. Wonderful to learn about this culture of Kimonos. Now if only blondes and brunettes knew how deeply offensive it is to natural redheads when they fake being us.

  22. Thats very informative vlog Justine.That family single handedly polluted and corrupted the earth. Sad thing about this world is how so many gullible people follow them and make them rich and powerful.

  23. One didn't need to be Japanese to understand how disrespectful is was to co-op "kimono". Tone deaf, insensitive, and tasteless…

  24. Why are you making a case of this? She liked that name, probably felt the vibe was good paired with her kinds of garments, and thought that she could try having it. It didn't work. So fine. She did not hurt anyone. Any success that came through, either directly or indirectly linked to all that, is also fine. Why not?

  25. Kim Kardashian doesn't have any moral ethical standards…no class at all. She should be ashamed of herself!☠

  26. This is so despicable to me. Not just Asian cultures, but African American cultures are appropriated all the time. I’m Vietnamese and to imagine someone taking off the pants of our traditional Áo dái and making it some king of sexual money ploy is disgusting. I’ve always despised the Kardashians, but I hate even more that a lot of celebrities encourage entitled and vulnerable kids to use other cultures that way. I mean, why not choose another name? Or genuinely respect other cultures? It’s not that hard, and it’s not like other cultures can be professionally, respectfully, and informedly explored. Clothing is the beginning; next it’ll be food and architecture and integral stuff.

  27. I have owned a kimono ones. It doesn't show curves. They was a hard material in the waist so it looked like a rectangular figure.. I'm a pear.

  28. Personally have no interest in her/her shows/her products & they are anyway not available in India. Even if she does try to TM a generic word like saree for cheap publicity.. people would still knw what a real saree is. I proudly love all traditionally handwoven cotton/silk sarees of India and wear them. There are many like me and it wouldnt make a difference in our lives. However, if she does try to use laws cunningly to prevent others from using the word.. people will see through that. Using generic words of other cultures time and again will lead to people not liking the brand.

  29. Well, don't try this trick with traditional russian pieces, because the results would blow your mind (not in a good way…).

  30. In don‘t think this is Cultural Appropriation. This is really disrespectful, but she didn‘t steal the cultural style of the kimono or so. She spotted the Japanese and the word kimono. That is something different i would say.

  31. Kimono it’s wrong to choose this name. She doesn’t care about others feelings!! Just want to make lots of money quickly!!

  32. We do live in an economy world & the Kardashian’s are good at their monopoly I don’t think we can blame them for their successes

  33. I love the way you approach conversation, the attention you put into using the right words and the right language, not being sensationalistic, but being almost scientific with the care you put into "how" you talk about things. I just subscribed, not because of your content per se, but because I really admire your communication style. Thank you for making YouTube a better place with non-violent, non-sensationalistic, truth-based and research-based topics. <3

  34. Wow! Next level manipulation from someone I clearly underestimated! She is quite an evil genius. I believe now that her decisions were all deliberate. Great video!!!!

  35. Yeah, if and hypothetically speaking she wanted to trade make words like hijab or abaya I bet that someone will be after her life for doing so

  36. Hi Justine, I have just discovered your channel – great viewing! A question regarding some of your earlier videos on dressing for body shape: I have read that wearing a bangle or big rings can draw unwanted attention to your hip area for pears – do you agree with this? Also can pear shapes ever get away with wearing coloured shoes? Thanks 🙂

  37. She is a gold-digger, extremely disrespectful and shallow person. I feel bad for all the people who get sucked in with her. Do not support stupidity!

  38. personally I am a fan of japan culture and all this about naming it kimono is just disrespecting culture of other country and the fact that she knew all about it and still did it for free marketing is even more disrespectful and shameful

  39. I believe she and her team wanted to use any name at all that had 'Kim' in it, no matter where it came from. If 'kimono' passed without complains she would use it- easy to remember, with her name in – if not, the whole publicity would just made her line more popular. Win-win, as you said.

  40. If she wished to use 'prenda, gaúcha , bombacha, samba, or any name related to the culture of my state or country i honestly couldn't care less. She could name it anything she wanted. If one gets offended they can always NOT buy it and NOT wear it

  41. the kimono choice of name is indeed appalling. How can she have us believe it was just an honest mistake is proof she treats her customers-am not one thank you- like utter imbeciles, Great work Japan

  42. I don't know about you but I would not at all be shocked by the notion that the Kardashians are in total a very advanced marketing strategy. Not one of them had any stand alone talent, so to speak. I would not be surprised if the Kardashians the brand that they are today began as a assignment for a group of marketing students. That being go out and find something, anything ,with no legitimate talent, gifts or marketable skills,
    and make that thing marketable. The bow on the turd (If you'll pardon the expression) and monetize that thing. And it's not at all unlikely that if that has been the case , those kids are in fact who their team is comprised of at present. I'd at least chuckle to know that somewhere out there there's a group of former marketing students that nailed that assignment and have laughed their asses all the way to the bank .

  43. Thats absolutly DISRESPECT!!! And its UNACCEPTABLE. You can do whatever you want…whatever business but remember it shouldnt hamper any culture. Its RUDE!!!!!!

  44. Ye gods, the system is using everything as an ad space, including the discussion of cultural appropriation.
    People, they take everything you care for. Next thing is using the moon as ad space.

  45. Despite selling your shape…
    The attitude on the part of Kardashian is flippant, and quite discourteous.
    Understanding the many different levels in value is important, and
    more specifically whats for Market (sale), or Personal (in this case Culturally).
    For each, a distinction is made often within a set of personal or cultural ethical codes.
    Learning to read "code"(ethics) is not something many seem to value, or are even taught in this day.
    As much, as they are taught the value of purchase and possession.
    However, I think learning more about others cultures and their ethics, can help us to properly engage them
    And, perhaps avoid such contencious behaviour.

    Just my thoughts.
    To all –
    Be well!

  46. It’s unfortunate that Kim and her family are so much in the media theses days. I was never one to watch reality tv and could never understand the attraction. What kills me are all the young women who uphold Kim and her “look” as the epitome of beauty and end up as little Kim clones. Instead of putting our collective focus on Kim and people like her, who are basically in it for the money, we should all provide focus and support to people who are trying to change beauty standards for everyone. Thank you Justine for bringing my attetion to this, although I think I’ll go back to ignoring th Kardashians on principle!

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