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Kim Kardashian West has been accused of racism because of her masks

There's a fine line between fashion and necessity

Kim Kardashian West has been accused of racism because of her masks There's a fine line between fashion and necessity

Following more or less the example of the many brands that converted their factories to the production of specific medical goods to face the COVID-19 emergencyKim Kardashian West launched a real collection of face masks: as a part of her shapewear brand Skims, these masks are not actual medical goods, but just a collection of accessories available in five colours reportedly sold out in less than 30 minutes. The brand also announced that that it would donate 10,000 masks to various local relief charities in Los Angeles, in support of the fight against the virus. 

Faster than how the face masks went sold out, the success was followed by many accusations of “casual racism”: many users from different social media pointed out that one of the masks was not the right nude shade for a black model. Skims immediately made the adjustments and changed the grading colour, then re-uploaded this new version of the mask (along with a new model styling it) on its official site. 

This news opens up a very important debate, especially in these days: is there a fine line between fashion and primary necessity commodities? For now, Skims face masks are available on the site under the "Accessories" category and to buy them you have to sign up to a real waiting list. Their launch has been more similar to a hype release than to a charity intervention: the masks cost $8 and come in colours named sand, clay, sienna, cocoa and onyx, they are "non-medical" accessories (on the website is clarified that they are not “a respirator and will not eliminate the risk of contracting disease or infection”). To wear them seems more like a fashion choice than a pandemic precaution.

Though, Skims is not the only brand that has been accused of so-called "coronawashing", capitalization of the pandemic: earlier this year, ASOS was blamed for selling leopard-printed face masks and at the very beginning of the pandemic we already discussed the choice of selling Coronavirus merchandising. In fact, the Skims face masks have no utility rather than to be cooler than the medical ones (as mentioned in the online shop); despite this, they still went sold out in less than 30 minutes. 

In short, the web has accused Kim Kardashian West's face masks almost of... everything. It is not the first time that Skims faces backlash due to race issues: when the brand was first launched, in 2019, it came under the name of "Kimono" and was accused of appropriation of the Japanese culture, with the mayor of Kyoto, Daisaku Kadokawa, writing an open letter to Kardashian-West requesting that the word kimono should be reconsidered. In the face of a global pandemic, it's comforting to know that the #1 priority in everyone's list is still how to make an argument.