Kendall Jenner has been slammed after launching her new tequila brand, with many considering her latest venture to be cultural appropriation.
For weeks, rumors were running wild about Jenner’s big plan. The 25-year-old model announced her new company — 818 Tequila — on Tuesday and shared a series of photos and videos to mark the occasion.
Jenner received backlash almost immediately. Many social media users called her out for being racially insensitive after launching the Mexico-based alcohol brand based in Jalisco. Her sisters — Kim Kardashian and Kylie Jenner –stepped out to show her love and support.
And people were further outraged by the name of the tequila, which references the area code 818 of Kendall Jenner’s home in California — a move called “whitewashing.”
The photos and videos shared by Jenner showed a clip of friends cheering for her as she revealed the drink and videos of herself drinking it over ice and talking about the “smooth” taste.
She claimed it had been a “journey” to create tequila which tasted the best in the world — a feat she believes she has achieved after three and a half years.
Jenner said the process had involved blind taste tests, trips to the distillery, and winning competitions by entering as an anonymous contestant.
Social media users from Mexico and Latin America were quick to respond to Kendall Jenner’s new brand, labeling her a “colonizer.”
They also made references to some other poorly-judged projects of the Kardashian-Jenner family, including Kim Kardashian’s SKIMS line, which was initially due to be labeled Kimono before she received public backlash.
Others pointed out that the agave Azul plant used to make tequila has been over-farmed in the last few years, resulting in weaker plants, more pesticides, and increased work.
A few criticized Jenner for labeling the drink’s bottle “blanco tequila” instead of correctly labeled “tequila blanco.”
One observer shared: “Pls don’t buy this; please support Mexican family owned tequila. 🇲🇽you won’t talk about how you exploited the Mexican workers?”
However, others noted that when George Clooney and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson launched tequila brands, they did not face the same backlash as Kendall Jenner, questioning whether sexism is involved.
This backer said: “Exploited, yeah um. If a celebrity is going to make a liquor, the most RESPONSIBLE thing to do is base the production in the liquors- OR ANY TYPE OF GOODS- home country. Otherwise, the tequila would compete with Mexican tequila producers. Mexico would lose money. Kendall having her tequila produced in Mexico PROTECTS Mexican jobs. People who don’t usually buy tequila are going to buy tequila just bc it’s Kendall’s. Mexico benefits. Get educated.”
Kylie Jenner shared this note: “KENDALL!!!!! Yes!!! I’ve seen all the hard work and LOVE you’ve put into 818!!! and you did it .. the best tequila !!! proud of you. 🥃🤎”
Kim Kardashian added: “So proud of you! I wasn’t a drinker until I tried 818. Tequila shots all day!!!”
Some are wondering if Kendall found her billion-dollar ticket.