It is not often that I delve into the reality TV show grittiness of evaluating exactly what kind of impact certain stars make on society, and the Kardashians I have to say, in terms of ethical fashion or spearheading positive environmental awareness, have not cropped up that regularly in my line of work.
However, you would have to live under a rock and be totally cut off from all forms of social media in order to get away with not knowing who the Kardashian and Jenner clan is – my Nana for instance is one such example of this innocence, spurning as she does anything to do with computers, Facebook, and other modern day contraptions. So – I was intrigued when I came across a couple of articles on Eluxe and Veg News posing the tentative question – could Kim Kardashian actually help rather than hinder ethical fashion? Her track record, as well as several others from the Kardashian/Jenner family, has admittedly not been great having been photographed wearing very real fur on several occasions.
However, then came the article entitled ‘Vegan Fur is Kim Kardashian’s New Thing’, and it got me to thinking – with their multi-million fan following all over the world, one tweet or Instagram post from this famous family incenses a buying and copying frenzy that could enormously help and highlight areas of the fashion, beauty or health industries who put fair wages, transparency in production and environmental ethics first. I did a bit of digging into what evidence there is so far that the Kardashians might be in this way inclined…
Earlier this year, 21-year old Kylie Jenner’s new range of lip kits sold out in under 20 minutes and she is set to become the youngest self-made billionaire in the world.
A statement clearly posted on the Kylie Cosmetics website reads: “Kylie Cosmetics products are not tested on animals, and all shades of The Kylie Lip Kit (excluding Candy K) are vegan.”
Kylie’s love of animals has motivated these ethics, and at least one media voice has argued that this has served to increase their popularity. In a world where cruelty-free make-up is possible and popular, it is still baffling to me that not more make-up can be termed thus. It would be good if Kylie Cosmetics adopted an even more holistic approach to marketing their make-up and perhaps used organic and naturally-derived ingredients in production, following in the footsteps of ethical make-up companies such as INIKA Organic and PHB Ethical Beauty.
This is the Instagram post that set the internet ablaze – Kim Kardashian sporting a faux fur coat on her way to watch her idol Cher perform in Las Vegas, where she recreated the same look Cher once wore to a production of the Rocky Horror Picture Show in 1974. The coat was a gift from Givenchy’s communications director Youssef Marquis and came with the note: “My sweet Kim. A little treat for the summer … or the winter. Love ya! PS: It’s all fake.” Kim shared this and the coat to her 114 million followers.
Whether this commitment to faux fur will last remains to be seen, but Kim has already taken criticism for being seen in numerous fur pieces throughout her starlit career, including one such occasion when PETA campaign model and animal rights activist Pamela Anderson sent a handwritten note to the star requesting that she use her influence against real fur rather than for it. According to VegNews, Pamela said of Kim: “Kim has a great heart,” Anderson said, “and I know she is a great influencer. She has millions of followers around the world.” Here’s hoping that this craze sticks!
Khloe Kardashian’s denim line GOOD AMERICAN launched in 2016 with $1 million turnover on its first sale day. One of the most heartening and surprising aspects of this jeans brand is that A) almost all products are assembled in Los Angeles and B) each item sold donates a profit to Step Up – the charity that “helps girls from under-resourced communities to fulfill their potential”.
Of course, ‘assembled in’ LA doesn’t mean the same as ‘made in’, and it would be even more preferable for each of the components involved in the assembly of each item to be made in the USA (rather than being imported from abroad, as the The Alliance for American Manufacturing found they are currently).
Khloe Kardashian’s US denim brand initially aligned itself firmly with certain manufacturing values, with an early article reporting the following from the GOOD AMERICAN About page: “Made in Los Angeles… GOOD AMERICAN is dedicated to having a positive impact on the community. Pledging to sustain the manufacturing of jeans in the United States and supporting charities that empower girls to realize their true potential.” However, when I last looked, I couldn’t see this manufacturing pledge on their website…
The pledge to donate a percentage of each sale to Step Up however is still loud and clear. Step Up empowers girls from less privileged backgrounds through the use of mentoring, after-school programs and awards to achieve their full potential, and GOOD AMERICAN’s support will be strongly felt by many in their scheme. I believe this is a step in the right direction for all Kardashian / Jenner enterprises.
Back in April 2017, a commercial appeared featuring 21-year old Kendall Jenner by soft drink giant Pepsi. It took the internet by storm – and unfortunately not in the way Kendall or Pepsi intended. Shortly after the commercial was aired internationally, the whole thing was pulled due to a massive backlash from people all over the world, who held it and the company to account for its apparent trivialization of protest movements and the message behind the campaign Black Lives Matter, since it implied that complex social issues and movement dynamics between protestors and police officers could be solved by enjoying a can of Pepsi together. The full ad is above, and below is a blow-by-blow breakdown of exactly why it wound so many people up.
Following the outrage it caused among viewers, Pepsi pulled the ad and sent out the following message:
Kendall Jenner remained comparatively very quiet about the whole thing, until her reaction to the backlash was aired on Keeping Up With The Kardashians, Season 14, when she said: “I would never purposefully hurt someone, ever… I just felt so stupid, the fact that I would offend other people or hurt other people was definitely not the intent… I genuinely feel like sh**, and I have no idea how I’m going to bounce back from it”. Her sisters showed their support for Kendall in this same episode, saying that such criticism affected her the most out of all of them because she is renowned for thinking and caring deeply about the impact her modelling work has on supporters.
However, although this tearful episode is clearly heartfelt on Kendall’s part, a number of viewers noticed that she kind of apologised but didn’t really apologise, as this Twitter-er rightly pointed out:
I think this is a case of someone who is still young being caught up in what they think is a positive overall message of unity and peace that will appeal to viewers rather than thinking a little more deeply about the overt and in some cases offensive political messages that such a commercial would send out. Even if this was the case, a genuine apology from Kendall would, I think, have been the more ethical way of going about this backlash, and would have sat more comfortably with her fans.
Of all the Kardashians/Jenners, Kourtney is the one who is the most outspoken and rigorous about her diet and her children’s. She insists on buying only organic when she can from the supermarket, and says that she maintains a gluten-free and dairy-free lifestyle. Having read a couple of articles written by Kourtney herself on her website, it is clear that she is passionate about her diet choices and the effects these have on her physical and mental health. However, Kourtney’s eating habits on the show Keeping Up With The Kardashians have been scrutinised and found wanting by food sensitivity and vegan websites such as Superfoodly, who point to the fact that many of the products Kourtney is shown indulging in are neither gluten-free, dairy-free or vegan. Veganism is a label that Kourtney seems to toy with throughout the show, and it seems to be offending real steadfast vegans, who recognise that Kourtney is aligning herself with those that see veganism as a food ‘fad’ rather than staying true to its values. As one Superfoodly writer points out, “She makes dietary choices based on buzzwords, without apparently ever really digging into the science (or lack thereof) behind them…She will insist on buying only organic at the grocery store and highlighting the veganism of items in episode 3, but episodes/scenes before and after she’s chowing down on dairy and other things which clearly are not vegan… She gives the real vegans a bad rap.”
Although I would never critique someone for trying to eat healthier, I do understand this writer’s perspective. For those who genuinely commit to a life of full veganism, it can feel like a mockery is being made of the values behind it when superstars such as Kourtney toy with the idea and use it in conversation and lifestyle choices when it suits them to do so.
Of course, the second question that I am left considering having looked into the fashion, beauty and lifestyle choices of these five Kardashian and Jenner family members is not only what they are currently doing, but also ‘is it enough?’ Taking into account their huge platform on social media and ability as influencers of fashion, buying behaviours and role models for well-being traits all around the world, it strikes me that the Kardashian/Jenner family could definitely be doing more, as well as aligning themselves with movements that they both commit to and believe in. Khloe Kardashian’s USA-assembled and charity-supportive denim brand Good American is one large step in the right direction. Transparency in production practices as well as highlighting and supporting charitable causes are two business traits that are becoming increasingly important as an antidote to the world of unethical, unaccountable and ‘fast’ fashion. It is my hope that this could be used as a model for all future Kardashian/Jenner ventures.
In Love&Light FS XOX