Kendall Jenner faces accusations of cultural appropriation after announcing new tequila brand

Jenner says she’s been working on journey to ‘create the best tasting tequila’ for four years

Chelsea Ritschel
New York
Wednesday 17 February 2021 22:49
Kendall Jenner launches new tequila brand
Leer en Español

Kendall Jenner is being accused of cultural appropriation and “exploiting Mexican culture” after she unveiled her new tequila brand, 818 Tequila.

The reality star first unveiled her newest venture on Tuesday, when she shared a video of herself sipping glasses of tequila to Instagram, as well as various photos of the bottles of tequila, with the caption: “For almost four years I’ve been on a journey to create the best tasting tequila.”

In the post, Jenner explains that “after dozens of blind taste tests, trips to our distillery, entering into world tasting competitions anonymously and WINNING,” she thinks “we’ve done it”.

“This is all we’ve been drinking for the last year and I can’t wait for everyone else to get their hands on this to enjoy it as much as we do! @drink818 coming soon,” the 25-year-old added.

While Jenner is not the first celebrity to launch a tequila brand, as George Clooney and Dwayne Johnson both have tequila companies, the announcement was met with near-immediate backlash, with many accusing the supermodel of “cultural appropriation” and of profiting off an agricultural industry that is integral to the Mexican economy.

Tequila typically comes fromJalisco, Mexico, where it is made through a time-intensive process that sees farmers harvesting agave plants, which take up to eight years to mature.

According to Jenner, 818 Tequila does come from Jalisco, however, criticism suggested that she was “taking from local Mexican artisans and profiting off our traditions and agricultural business”. 

“Something about Kendall Jenner making tequila rubs me the wrong way… like the idea of white celebrities taking from local Mexican artisans and profiting off our traditions and agricultural business yet only visit Cabos and Puerto Vallarta for vacation spots…” one person tweeted. “And not to mention profit off the brown hands that actually plant, grow, harvest ferment and distill the agave plants in Jalisco.”

Another said: “I’m from Jalisco, and I like Kendall Jenner but this does not sit right with me, I ain’t drinking her Tequila. Stop exploiting Mexican culture for profit. Support the smaller tequila brands, they are way better.”

Others took offence with the name that Jenner chose for the spirits company, which refers to the area code of Calabasas, the city in California where she grew up.

“Kendall Jenner starting a tequila brand, with zero knowledge on Mexican culture and calling it ‘818 Tequila’ is GENTRIFICATION. The 818 does not claim Calabasas. What about those smaller, family owned Mexican tequila/mezcal brands? They deserve the hype & support,” someone else wrote on Twitter, adding that “so many Mexican & Central American immigrants have built their lives in the 818”.

“Like many places in Los Angeles, wealthy folks try to erase the real people and culture from the 818 to appeal to white folks and their version of the 818,” they continued.

This is not the first time a member of the Kardashian/Jenner family has been accused of cultural appropriation, a fact that many have acknowledged on Twitter.

Jenner’s older sister Kim Kardashian previously faced criticism after she launched her shapewear brand under the name Kimono, before later changing it to Skims, while sister Kylie Jenner has also faced similiar criticism after wearing her hair in twists, a protective hairstyle frequently worn by Black men and women.

“Kendall Jenner coming out with her own tequila brand... what’s next on the Kardashian/Jenner colonisation list?” one person tweeted.

As of now, Jenner has not addressed the backlash regarding her tequila brand.

The Independent has contacted Jenner for comment.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

View comments