Why we're not using "Kimono" anymore
As many of you know, we launched our Kickstarter and our brand with a ridiculously comfortable blazer called the Kimono Blazer. Until recently, I had no issue using the word "kimono" in our product name. I have seen enough fashion brands use "kimono" to simply mean a flowy garment. Thinking it was clever because our blazers are designed to be loose and flowy, I named it the Kimono Blazer.
However, due to a few recent events, I have decided to stop calling our blazers by that name. The recent debacle with Kim Kardashian attempting to trademark the word "kimono" for her new shapewear line has brought the cultural significance of this Japanese garment to light. And therefore, brought to light our insensitive cultural appropriation in using kimono as a descriptor for our blazer when it has nothing to do with Japanese culture.
I willingly admit that I was blind to this appropriation and cultural theft. I’m so sorry to anyone who may have been hurt by our offensive use of “kimono.” I have done my best to remove "kimono" from our website and marketing and will begin calling our blazer by another name.
The kimono is a garment of deep cultural significance in Japan, a country with a rich history. Caucasian-led companies have consistently been guilty of popularizing and profiting off other cultures with no thought to credit or give back to the culture which it was inspired by. Moreover, we continue to benefit from systems of oppression, where people of color are mistreated and undervalued. I don't want to be a part of this any longer.
The United States specifically has a disgusting history of oppressing immigrants and citizens of Japanese decent. We must remember that our nation, that we love to consider the noble hero of World War II, is capable of horrific things. We must not forget that we forced people into concentration camps, solely on the basis of race, just a few generations ago. In light of the conversations about the census, it is more important than ever to remember our past and take steps, both big and small, to rid ourselves and our society of subtle prejudice and blatant racism alike. To admit that we've made mistakes and choose to go a different direction. Choose to protect cultures and not exploit them. To appreciate our racial, ethnic and cultural differences and recognize that those differences are what makes our nation so great to begin with.
Would you join us? Take time to question what you view as normal. Ask yourself if your "normal" is exploiting anyone. Their culture, their time, their dignity. Then take steps to change what you're doing and find a better way. Together we can make our world better and safer for everyone.
A few additional notes.
I have specifically chosen not to remove previous posts where we've referred to our blazer as the Kimono Blazer. I believe that, in the spirit of vulnerability and humility, we should not pretend that our mistakes and missteps did not exist. When we hurt others or make mistakes, it's important to not cover up, but to address it, adjust our behavior, and allow it to shape us into a better human. We need more grace in our world. Grace combined with gentle correction and humility to admit our wrongdoings.
In light of that, thank you so much to Ally C Tran, who kindly drew our attention to our improper use of "kimono."
If you'd like to learn more about this, here are some great resources and blogs: