The Quiltdashians: Let Us Embrace Kim, Her Family, and Their Patchwork Ad Campaign

posted in: Fashion, Quilting, Work 22
Strange bedfellows? Nah. The Calvin Klein ad campaign featuring the Kardashian sisters, 2018.


Speeding home in a taxi this evening, I gave in and opened the news app on my phone. Reading the news more than once a day is bad for a person’s health and I checked the blasted thing this morning already.

But if I hadn’t looked, I might not have seen the hot-off-the-fashion-presses story about Kim Kardashian West and her latest ad campaign for Calvin Klein. Kim is evidently now selling jeans for the company, and the ad campaign features Kim hanging out with her sisters, all of them in jeans and looking dewy/rich, talking about babies or boys or themselves, which is fine. It’s the Kardashian Way.

What is rather surprising, however, is that the girls are spread out on or coquettishly clutching … patchwork quilts.

Red and white quilts, specifically, and the quilts are the only visual cue on set. The girls are in a barn-like space (as evidenced by the wooden beams overhead, sort of) but this is way-in-the-back-backdrop.

In this ad, the quilts are very, very much the thing. Well, the quilts and the boobs.

Much will be said about this ad campaign. The fashion people will freak out about how daring and koo-koo bananas fabulous it is for Kim & Co. to use quilts of all things to sell tight jeans. How anachronistic! How gauche/glam! Old/new! Gag, gag, gag. (“Gag” is a good thing in this context.) Some fashion people will think it’s a misfire, I suppose, but haters will hate and the Kardashians are used to it.

I’d wager that way, way more quilters are going to be talking about this campaign than the fashion world people, though. And to offer the second surprise of the evening: I’ll bet most quilters will be excited about it.

Seriously. Quilters love quilts. We’re excited when we see them featured in mainstream media. Ken Burns was just interviewed in the New York Times about his exhibition at the International Quilt Study Center & Museum, in Lincoln, Nebraska, and whatever you think about the New York Times, that was awesome. That article got shared like crazy among quilters. We like it when the other half notices what we know all day: Quilts matter, they are great, they have never gone anywhere, and they aren’t going anywhere, either.

And when a major celebrity puts a quilt in her photo shoot, we’re down. Sure, some ladies will tsk-tsk about Kim’s underpants and someone(s) somewhere will get their applique twisted that the quilts are on the floor. The haters will hate. People have different opinions about how we do all this. Quilters are used to it.

The Kim Kardashian/Calvin Klein quilt ad campaign is a good thing. Quilts are indelible, enduring symbols of domesticity and comfort, of home and care. They’re also kind of associated with women, if you haven’t noticed. And while you might not approve of the Kardashian cult of celebrity, or the annual monies spent by their empire on manicures/private jets, etc., you gotta admit: These folks are all about family and home. They’re about kids. Legacy. Tradition. Sounds like a quilt family to me. What do their extensions have to do with anything?

It’s a heck of a thing when a celebrity on the Kim Kardashian scale puts a quilt front and center in an ad campaign or a photo shoot. In fact, the Kim ads are so surprising precisely because this never really happens. Madonna has never done a quilt thing. Julia Roberts was never photographed for InStyle magazine with a quilt on her lap. Oprah hasn’t taken up sewing hexies at her ranch house. The only other big-time celebrity I can think of who really pushed the quilt into pop culture was Gloria Vanderbilt, and that was 40 years ago! In the 1980s! She was super into crazy quilts and had fashion designer Adolfo make robes for her to wear around her Log Cabin-decorated house.

But Gloria doesn’t have a reality show, y’all, and she ain’t married to Kanye West. This is probably a good move on Gloria’s part, no disrespect to Kanye. I’m thinking of the age difference.

Anyway, this post has been dashed off pretty fast; maybe too fast. I try to ruminate on things before I start typing. But by the time the taxi dropped me off at my building, I had gone through a (hopefully) robust thought process on all this and I’m okay if there’s more to say later. For now, I feel confident that quilters, on balance, are going to cheer about Kim and the red-and-whites.

They may not buy the jeans.

22 Responses

  1. Becca G
    | Reply

    Looks like 4 different red/white quilts
    underneath their heinies. Too bad we can’t see a lil more of the quilts & a lil less of them.

    • Becca G
      | Reply

      Looks like a couple of the quilts from the CK Website.

  2. Nicole Hannah
    | Reply

    I counted at least 10 different quilts between all the images (yes I googled the rest). Which ever one is in front, take your damn boots off the quilt. Or blanket*. Or patchwork blanket*.

    *Media reports differ as to what those red and white textile objects are called.

    • Ivy
      | Reply

      Right?? Boots off the quilt, damnit!!

  3. Sarah Murray
    | Reply

    Which one is Kim? Love the quilts

  4. Chris Carlson
    | Reply

    I’m surprised by how hostile I actually feel toward this sacrilegious use of quilts!There is nothing about these women that resonates with how I feel about quilts and quilting. I’m actually heartsick.

  5. Brenda King
    | Reply

    Mary, can we pul-eeze not combine Kardashians and beautiful quilts? I may have to lose my appetite, er, I mean my interest in quilts! (LOL!)

  6. Ann Marie
    | Reply

    Please do a bit of detective work in your spare time and investigative reporting so your followers with inquiring minds can learn where these quilts came from, who made them, etc. I anticipate a spike in manly men and quilt calendar sales this year. P. S. Hope you enjoyed Wausau and the LYA guest house. I couldn’t sell the Everest Inn idea.

  7. Peggy
    | Reply

    I’m not really sure what to think about this. I do not care for the Kardashians and the way they pimp (um ‘market’) themselves constantly, but I love quilts and quilting, and if more of the public at large start talking about those ‘blankets’ in the ads (or maybe even want to start making them!), then it’s not a bad thing for the quilting industry. Knowledge is power.

  8. kristie jarchow
    | Reply

    You make me laugh!

  9. Cara
    | Reply

    I find your take interesting. I”m going to admit; I mostly responded with an eye roll… Quilts are not going to make the Kardashian’s wholesome, and I’m pretty sure that was the point. On the other hand, you’re right that a few more muggles are going to say “Oh, quilts are kind of pretty.” and so there’s that.

  10. Liz
    | Reply

    I’m SO glad you mentioned Gloria Vanderbilt! I recently discovered Vogue photo shoots of her apartment and house from the early 1970’s. Some rooms feature quilts from the floor to ceiling, inclusive,… as in the floors and ceilings and walls are all patchwork patterns. It’s fascinating! My favorite is the out-of-control dining room, decked out in schoolhouse quilt blocks. An added bonus to these photos is seeing her son Anderson Cooper before he was THE Anderson Cooper! Quilt fans – please google it. You’ll be glad you did!

    • Cara
      | Reply

      Thank you for the suggestion – that was amazing. How we’re those rooms not hideous? They should have been, but they really weren’t. Fascinating.

  11. liz hinze
    | Reply

    But were the quilts made in America?

  12. Deborah Rhodes
    | Reply

    I pay no attention to anything with reality “So called” stars This included I turn the page change the channel or close the I pad I find it shameful that people who either bare their souls or body get famous and rich for it. My daughters are much better people and more deserving of praise. Or riches. One is a police officer the other a day care worker.

  13. Barbara
    | Reply

    I am so unimpressed!!

  14. Judy Forkner
    | Reply

    Love the quilts! I love seeing quilts anywhere I can–But I don’t love the Kardashians!

  15. Sally Nesser
    | Reply

    I don’t know wether to laugh or cry. Such craziness in contrast. Who ever dreamed this up? I think they were trying to make the K family seem all American. It is almost like Donald running for President. Pretty scary actually.

    I also remember when Ralph Lauren made clothing out of quilts and every one was besides themselves over recycling quilts.

    I will definitely be googling up the GV quilt pictures!
    Thank for the info.

  16. Sally
    | Reply

    Based on one of the previous comments, I went to the Calvin Klein website to view the quilts they are selling. I hope that the quilts that are on the floor are not any of the vintage one-of-a-kinds… that might make me sad. (I didn’t actually take the time to compare the website with the photo you shared). Anyway, I’m more incredulous that the Kardashians are selling the jeans (the undies make more sense) because I’m reasonably certain that the ready to wear Calvins would not be wearable by Kim ,and maybe some of the others, without alterations in the booty/waist area just because most jeans are not made for that specific type of hour-glass type shape.

  17. MJ Snyder
    | Reply

    Brilliant bottom line, Mary. Gotta go through my red and white stash and get busy!

  18. Sandy Panagos
    | Reply

    I LOVE this blog post! I cannot believe the negative comments. Keep up the great work, Mary!

  19. Darlene
    | Reply

    Celebrity status does nothing for me except ruin the quilts.

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