Kendall Jenner introduces her tequila brand 818

Kendall Jenner / Instagram

‘Stick to Pepsi girl’: Kendall Jenner blasted for cultural appropriation after tequila debut

'Kendall Jenner starting a tequila brand, with zero knowledge on Mexican culture and calling it '818 tequila' is GENTRIFICATION.'

Feb 17, 2021, 3:55 pm



Samira Sadeque

Kendall Jenner announced the launch of her tequila company, and fans on Twitter are not taking to it very kindly. 

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She made the announcement on Tuesday with a series of photos and videos, one showing the supermodel tasting a drink from her own brand, 818.

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Jenner said she’s been working on the product for almost four years in an attempt to “create the best tasting tequila” and that she just may have done it. She added that on top of tastings and taking trips to the 818 distillery, the company has also been participating in world tasting competitions and winning them. 

“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!” she wrote. 

While her Instagram comments were flooded with congratulatory remarks, users on Twitter weren’t as cheerful. Many began expressing their reservations about Jenner delving into the tequila business. They accused her, in part, of cultural appropriation.

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Many were also upset that she started a company for a drink that has roots in a different country but named it after the Calabasas area code.

“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,” one user said.

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Others similarly commented on her lack of knowledge about Mexican culture.
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Many are saying that for her, a white woman, to be profiting off a market that some claim small family businesses in Mexico rely on is white privilege.

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And it’s not that the members of the Kardashian clan haven’t faced backlash in the past for numerous instances of cultural appropriation.

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Some people have even been providing alternative brands to support.
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But not everyone is as quick to write off Jenner’s new venture. One user wrote, “She’s not Mexican so she can’t start a tequila company, that’s the stupidest Fucking thing I’ve heard today.”

Jenner is not the first American celebrity to start a tequila company. She is preceded by LeBron James, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, and George Clooney. While it isn’t clear how these brands are directly affecting Mexican family-run businesses, as one user claimed in their response to Jenner’s announcement, farmers in Mexico are having to change their traditional practices of farming agave to meet the demands, which some farmers worry will have a negative effect on agave farming in the long run.

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*First Published: Feb 17, 2021, 3:55 pm