The Kardashian sisters are famously known for being entrepreneurial in spirit. From Kim Kardashian's custom emoji app to Kylie Jenner's cosmetic line, the family clearly does not have a difficult time placing their brands into the mainstream. Through their vast connections and name recognition, building a brand from the bottom up is not much of a challenge. Their wealth and status ensure them success in all of their entrepreneurial pursuits, which in some cases can be extremely destructive.
Recently, Kylie Jenner, the youngest of the sisters, came out with a set of two piece camouflage outfits and other camouflage themed apparel. The newest edition to her line of merchandise has been revealed to be copied directly from a small black-owned indie brand named PluggedNYC. Emails have been leaked showing Kylie ordering and even requesting custom pieces from the brand prior to the the release of her own line. Placed side by side, PluggedNYC's camouflage apparel is identical to that of Kylie's, down to the clear plastic boots worn by the models.
This recent scandal is not surprising, taking into account how sister Khloe Kardashian was also accused of stealing from another small black-owned brand months prior. The issue with these events is not the blatant unoriginality and disrespect exhibited by the family, the issue with these events lays in the profit and exploitation of black owned brands.
Building a business from the ground up is hard. However building a business from the ground up as a person of color with no name recognition has to be nearly impossible. The blatant exploitation exhibited by the Kardashian sisters is certainly the essence of white privilege. The family gets away with stealing the ideas and creative concepts of a successful brand, and is then protected by their wealth from any repercussions. Instead of rewarding brands like PluggedNYC for their accomplishments, their work is getting stolen and then profited off of without hesitation.
Additionally, the legal intimidation presented by the Kardashian side further strengthens their guilt. Legal action threatening retaliation on the grounds of defamation truly shows how far the family will go to not only steal from these brands, but to silence them into submission as well. Rather then addressing these accusations, Kylie Jenner is silent, depending on her wealth and status to once again save her from the consequence of her actions. It is unsettling how truly unapologetic and nonchalant the family is in normalizing the exploitation of these successful lines.
Events like this truly show not only how success is measured based on wealth rather than talent, but also how easy it is for white brands to "re-invent" and profit off of the success and essence of black owned brands. Subtle discrimination and attitudes of white supremacy can be easily seen in events such as these. No longer should we allow the overshadowing and theft of successful black owned brands. No longer should we accept white theft as re-invention of black culture. The Kardashians ought to know better than to mess with black culture in 2017.