Kendall Jenner announced her latest deal on Tuesday with a post on Instagram explaining her longstanding process of making “Tequila with the Best Flavor”. After the first images of the product, named 818, were posted after her hometown Calabasas, California area code, people on the internet began criticizing the 25-year-old, calling her “gentrification.”
Kendall Jenner, who starts a tequila brand with no knowledge of Mexican culture and refers to it as “818 Tequila”, is GENTRIFICATION. The 818 does not claim Calabasas. What about these smaller Mexican family owned tequila / mezcal brands? You deserve the hype and the support.
– Jennie Molina (@jenjocelyn) February 17, 2021
Hi @EndallJennerRespectfully, as I tell my toddler, “it’s a no” to your hand that makes the best tequila in the world.
Too many real people, namely Mexicans, have actually made the tequila with their actual hands, in which you only advocate at best. No bueno.
– Amanda Victoria (@amandagoodeye) February 16, 2021
Lucas Assis, a Los Angeles-based bartender from Brazil who has experience in the tequila industry from his wife’s family in Mexico, tells Yahoo Life that he was “disappointed but not surprised” when he heard about Jenner’s new brand got.
“There was just a lack of respect for the culture and importance of tequila to Mexico. She didn’t even know how to drink tequila properly,” he said of Jenner’s announcement post. “It’s disrespectful for an outsider to come out and say that in just four years and without prior knowledge of the spirit, she could make tequila with the best taste.”
Assis posted a video on his social media explaining his stance that Jenner’s 818 brand is actually an example of cultural appropriation.
In it, he draws attention to a number of vulnerabilities that countless people across the Latinx community have spoken about, including Jenner, who tried the tequila wrong with ice cubes in her mug, did not label the bottles in Spanish, and even pointed out that four Years have passed All it took to create what she says is “best tasting tequila” when the agave – a plant the tequila comes from – takes twice as long to mature. All of this shows that people who are breaking into the industry like Jenner are overlooking the cultural importance of the agricultural product, Assis says.
“The plant is embedded in the history and culture of the country. Celebrities need to understand the damaging effects their brands can have on the tequila industry, but most importantly on agave farming,” he explains. “Using Mexico’s culture and history for nothing but capital gain is an appropriation of culture. Not to mention the small family-owned distilleries that have been doing this for generations have struggled to keep up with the skyrocketing prices of agave farmers simply unable to keep up with demand. “
He continues, “It takes eight to nine years for the agaves to fully mature. Now the mega-distillers harvest them when they are three to four years old, using diffusers and chemicals to extract the sugar, which is the whole process and.” changed the mind itself substantially just to keep up with demand from the big brands and celebrity tequilas. “
Tired of the celebrity tequila craze! WTF does @EndallJenner I know about tequila that my family has worked in the fields in Jalisco all their lives just so people could dip their toes. Stay on your track.
– YB (@YaraB) February 16, 2021
And not to mention the brown hands that actually plant, grow, ferment and distill the agave plants in Jalisco
– LaMesaQueMasApluada (@estyledesma) February 17, 2021
While many people spoke of benefiting from the workers in Jalisco, Mexico, others discussed the issue with Jenner calling the 818 brand to target the largely Latin American population of the San Fernando Valley.
She calls aTEQUILA 818 because 818 is mainly used by Mexicans / bullying people who live in this area. You wouldn’t name TEQUILA Jenner or Armenia or any other number or zip code
– Vanessa (@ vanessamarin38) February 18, 2021
Perhaps Kendall Jenner should donate a percentage of every tequila bottle sale BACK to the 818 low-income communities. She wants to benefit from it.
– Lisss (@_ohlizz) February 17, 2021
Still, some people pointed out that Jenner appears to have more problems appropriating Mexican culture than a number of other celebrities who have launched their own brands of tequila in the past – namely, white male celebrities.
Very Hot: I understand the frustration of Kendall Jenner’s tequila, but I’ve never seen the same energy for people as George Clooney, Rand Gerber, the Rock, Nick Jonas, Adam Levine etc for appropriation and their tequila brands 🤷🏻 ♀️
– ali (@ c4ll_it_k4rma) February 17, 2021
“Perhaps there is some level of sexism in some people when a successful young woman starts a tequila brand,” Assis says. But while the general public may not have held George Clooney and Nick Jonas accountable for their tequila businesses, Assis did.
“I was shouting celebrity tequilas in previous videos before 818 was announced,” he explains. “I called Elon Musk and his Tesla-Tequila Casamigos [by Clooney] and even Dos Hombres Mezcal by Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul. “
Regarding Jenner’s brand in particular, Assis suggests that “few have the influence she has,” which could add to the attention – both positive and negative – that it receives. “If you’re looking for authentic woman-owned and operated tequila, look for ‘La Gritona’. It’s amazing, small amounts and owned by women,” he says.
While he claims “All Celebrity Tequila” should be avoided in favor of supporting Mexican brands, Assis explains that there is a right way to get involved in the industry.
“Don’t use other people’s culture and history for anything other than capital gain. Respect the culture, don’t pretend you know what it means or claim it as your own,” he says. “There are many ways to get involved in the industry and not take advantage of it.”
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