One is a traditional garment that has long been a symbol of Japan’s rich cultural heritage, with wide flowing silk sleeves, delicate motifs and exquisite craftsmanship.
The other is a range of nude skintight underwear launched by a US pop culture icon with 60 million Twitter followers, a reality television family and a penchant for contouring.
These two very different worlds collided with a bang this week, as Kim Kardashian West sparked widespread accusations of cultural appropriation in Japan after unveiling a new shapewear collection named – you’ve guessed it – Kimono.
Kardashian West launched the new underwear range to millions of followers on social media, highlighting how it comes in sizes XXS to 4XL and nine different shades, alongside photographs of models wearing the Spanx-style shapewear.
“Finally I can share with you guys this project that I have been developing for the last year,” she wrote. “I’ve been passionate about this for 15 years. Kimono is my take on shapewear and solutions for women that actually work.”
However, rather than sparking a retail frenzy, the announcement triggered widespread debate in Japan over her choice of the name “kimono” – apparently a play on her name, despite having no obvious connection to the traditional garment.