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(From left) Kris Jenner, Kim Kardashian, Kanye West, Kendall Jenner and Kylie Jenner in 2019. Their reality series Keeping Up With the Kardashians is ending, but their family empire will live on. Photo: AP

Kim Kardashian, Kendall Jenner: a guide to the reality show family’s fashion and beauty businesses, from lip kits to denim

  • Kim’s portfolio includes her Skims shapewear line, recently valued at US$1.6 billion, and cosmetics line KKW Beauty, estimated to be worth US$1 billion
  • Family matriarch Kris Jenner manages all of her offspring, is an executive producer of Keeping Up With the Kardashians and influences the family brands

Keeping Up With the Kardashians (KUWTK) is more than a television show – it’s an empire. And when the reality show shuts down on June 10 after 20 seasons on American entertainment television channel E!, the family’s entrepreneurial machinery will keep on humming.

The relationship between the series and the empire has been there from the start, with the former seen as a potential boon to the family’s retail businesses before sparking even greater ambitions.

“I thought, ‘This will be so great for the stores,’” mum Kris Jenner told the Los Angeles Times’ Yvonne Villarreal in her oral history of the pilot episode. “Kim and I would set these goals every year. And [in 2007, the year KUWTK premiered], we set a goal to develop her first fragrance, which was ‘Kim Kardashian’. That was the start of what we saw the potential could be down the road.”

Jenner’s business education, she said in a 2020 sit-down for investment company Goldman Sachs, came “through osmosis” while married to the late lawyer Robert Kardashian, whose friends included producers, studio heads, executives and, um, OJ Simpson.

Still, connections aside, the work ethic of “the girls” has been instrumental to the family’s success: without them, even the best ideas would fall flat. Social media has played a major role as well. In addition to promoting the family brand, members of the Kardashian-Jenner clan are paid to plug products online. (Reports have put Kylie Jenner and Kim Kardashian’s per-post takes in six- and seven-figure territory.)
Keeping Up With the Kardashians premiered in 2007. Photo: Getty Images
Over the years, the family has made headlines with both successes ( Kylie’s a billionaire! Or maybe not?) and missteps involving their entrepreneurial endeavours. (Witness the cultural-appropriation criticism that came after Kim thought it was a good idea to trademark Kimono for her new shapewear line. Deep breaths: it got rebranded.) But through it all, the family is still earning big bucks, nudging its net worth as a unit firmly into three-comma territory.

So how have Kim, Kylie, Kris, Khloe, Kendall and Kourtney made money through the years? Here are some of their entrepreneurial efforts.

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Kim, Kourtney and Khloe

Even before the October 2007 premiere of KUWTK, the Kardashian sisters opened their Dash boutique in Calabasas, in the US state of California, in 2006. Part of the reason they did the show was to promote the boutique. Shops in Miami and New York City followed in 2009 and 2010, and the original moved to West Hollywood in 2012. The mini-chain, which sold clothing and accessories, lasted until 2018, when its LA store finally shut. The Miami location, which closed in 2016, had its own reality television stint as well in three seasons of Kourtney and Khloe Take Miami and the lone season of spin-off Dash Dolls.

The three sisters cut a deal with Sears in 2011 to offer the Kardashian Kollection of clothing and accessories. But it was seemingly doomed from the outset after a report came out accusing the family of using sweatshops to manufacture their products. The items were cheaply made and deeply discounted, and the sisters had no control over quality. They pulled the plug in early 2015, and Kim told The New York Times last year that they made little out of the deal: just 6 per cent, split three ways, with 15 per cent of it going to their agents and 10 per cent going to mumager Kris.

Then there was Kardashian Kids in 2014, which offered trendy clothes – think leopard prints – for kids. The kids wear is now unofficially available via Poshmark, ThredUp and other online thrift stores.
Kim, Khloe and Kourtney in 2014. Photo: TNS

Kris Jenner

Kris runs Jenner Communications – which manages all of her offspring – and is an executive producer of Keeping Up With the Kardashians. She’s also been executive producer on spin-offs including Khloe & Lamar and the strange parody series Kirby Jenner on Quibi (a short-lived short-form streaming platform).

She influences the family brands, including low profile son Rob Kardashian’s Arthur George socks collection, as well as their launches. And we’ll give Kris credit for the Kardashian Kloset, an online resale store featuring clothing, shoes and accessories from big-name designers “hand-selected by each family member” from the “famous Kardashian-Jenner family closets”.

Kim has a number of companies in her portfolio, including the Skims shapewear line. Photo: Getty Images

Kim Kardashian

Kim has credited soon-to-be-third ex-husband Kanye West, whom she started dating in 2012 and married in 2014, with changing her approach to business so that her efforts align with her beliefs and goals. So while she’s still taking in money from sex tape Kim Kardashian, Superstar and mobile game Kim Kardashian: Hollywood, her business focus has changed.

Currently starring in Kim’s portfolio: the Skims shapewear line, recently valued at US$1.6 billion; cosmetics line KKW Beauty, estimated to be worth US$1 billion; and KKW Fragrance, which in addition to multiple Kim-spawned scents also includes collections tied to Kris, Kendall and Kylie.

Kylie was only nine when KUWTK debuted. Photo: TNS
The Kylie Lip Kits were well-received by Kylie’s social media followers.

Kylie Jenner

Kylie’s taste in make-up was all the rage in 2015 when she started selling Kylie Lip Kits, saying the items were born of insecurity over her own lips. The line got a boost from her social media followers, who raced to buy the limited quantities initially available. Eyeshadows and blushes were added, and Kylie Cosmetics was born. Now the products are available at Ulta Beauty stores. Kylie – who was only nine when KUWTK debuted – sold a majority stake to global beauty company Coty in late 2019 for hundreds of millions of dollars.

Kylie Skin launched in May 2019, promising products that are free of parabens, sulphates and, well, cruelty. They are also gluten-free and vegan.
Khloe launched Good American, conceived as a more size-inclusive denim line, in 2016. Photo: WireImage

Khloe Kardashian

In 2016, trading on nightmare memories of growing up with nothing to fit her larger frame, Khloe partnered with British marketing exec Emma Grede to launch Good American, conceived as a more size-inclusive denim line. The brand has since expanded to include all sorts of clothing, including swimwear and shoes. The line promises jeans in sizes 0 to 24, while shirts and other items come in sizes up to 8 – or as it’s known in Hollywood, 4XL.

Kendall Jenner

Kendall Jenner has a job outside the family circle: she’s a big-time model. The 25-year-old has walked in a number of shows as a Victoria’s Secret Angel and has hit designers’ runways all over the world.

In 2019, she acquired a stake in the Moon oral care line and created a teeth-whitening pen to her own specifications. She has also started pitching her tequila brand, 818, which was announced in February and got picked up by a US distributor in May (and attracted immediate backlash over ads that some saw as appropriating Mexican culture, badly, for profit).

Kendall has walked in a number of shows as a Victoria’s Secret Angel and has hit designers’ runways all over the world. Photo: Getty Images
Scott Disick and Kourtney, who has a lifestyle website, Poosh. Photo: AP

Kourtney Kardashian

Kourtney was never as excited as her sisters were about KUWTK, as revealed in mum Kris’ 2011 memoir. Still, despite being chided by her family over the years for her supposedly subpar work ethic, she does have a lifestyle website, Poosh. In addition to a shop, Poosh offers articles on health and fitness, life and style, home and entertaining, and – of course – Kourtney. Wanna learn the secret to her daily matcha latte? Gotcha covered – plus you can buy the secret matcha-latte tool in the Poosh store.

Kylie and Kendall

While the Jenner sisters’ core careers have gone in different directions, the two came together in 2013 with clothing line Kendall + Kylie. Actually, it’s billed as a “global lifestyle brand”, meaning it includes shoes, handbags and eyewear in addition to trendy apparel. The brand is available at US retailers PacSun and Nordstrom and on the Kendall + Kylie website, where items include vegan leather jackets, acrylic rompers and snakeskin bike shorts. Bikinis too – with a gold lamé one currently on sale.

This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as: A brief guide to the kardashian family empire