People In Japan Don't Seem Thrilled With Kim Kardashian West's Kimono Underwear

Photo: Andy Kropa/Invision/AP, AP

Kim Kardashian West has not only launched a line of shapewear called “Kimono,” but has also reportedly filed a trademark for the word “kimono” in the US. Folks in Japan don’t exactly seem thrilled.

There’s a fun fact, too, apparently.

Kardashian’s representative filed a trademark request for the word “kimono” for use on clothing, underwear, headwear, luggage, dog harnesses and...whips, among other items, including, wait for it, kimono. The application was filed on June 19.

But can she actually trademark a prevalent word like kimono in the United States? As patent attorney Kiyoshi Kurihara explains on Yahoo! News Japan, it is possible to trademark common nouns, but for specific products. For example, the word “apple” is trademarked for computers and phones.

Kurihara points out that it would be possible to trademark the word “kimono” for computer software or furniture. The assumption is that the argument Kardashian’s lawyers could make is that the brand is based on her name or that her line of Kimono products are not actual kimono. That is at the center of people’s problem with the whole thing.

In Japan, kimono are special articles of clothing. For most people, they are worn only on important occasions, such as at weddings, graduations and funerals. They are passed down within families from generation to generation. The kimono is a special garment with deep, emotional meaning for many people in Japan. Plus, kimono are not underwear, but outerwear specifically designed to cover the body in seasonal patterns and motifs.

So the idea that Kim Kardashian isn’t only using the word kimono for her underwear but also attempting to trademark is obviously rubbing folks the wrong way—like really the wrong way.

As of publishing, the English word “kimono” is trending on Twitter in Japan, and the reaction has not been good, with people in Japan worrying that the brand will overshadow the word’s real meaning, causing confusion and misrepresentation, or expressing anger at her attempt to take the word for profit.


    If a company can trademark "Ugg Boots" in the US, I wouldn't be surprised if this Kimono trademark succeeds too. The test seems to be whether the word is commonly used in the US rather than whether it is original or common elsewhere.

      the doctrine of foreign equivalents might apply here, it failed in the Ugg Australia case as "Ugg" isn't a term from a foreign language.

    I don't understand shapewear but in some of the designs why the eff is one leg longer then the other, wouldn't that give a weird sensation?

      Shapewear is used to improve the silhouette. If you've had a kid and your stomach sticks out a bit, you can wear some undergarments to help you look good in clothes that would otherwise be no good for you anymore.

      Why the hell you'd want different leg lengths is beyond me.

        Dress with a side split.

          I'm not giving fashion advice. I'm just explaining what the thing is. It's a thing people buy. It's like corsets for whatever part of your body you don't like.

            You realise Camm was simply giving you an answer for what you were wondering about, right?
            Why the hell you'd want different leg lengths is beyond me.

              I did not realise. There was no context so I read it as an alternative solution to using shapewear.

              As in I read it as:
              (You could) dress with a side split.
              Instead of
              (It's used for a) dress with a side split.

    You really could have trimmed the title of the article down to "People don't seem thrilled with Kim Kardashian"

      I was just going to say the same thing.
      It's a funny world we live in, where people can be famous for being famous.

    Whomever came up with the name and marketing, give them a raise

    Guess 'Kim's granny panties' wouldn't sell so well.

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