In August, I wrote an article predicting that Kim Kardashian West would turn her long-awaited website into a social app, and it looks like I was right. But now that it’s here, I couldn’t have predicted how different the app seems from Kim’s larger-than-life persona. It’s subtle in the most unexpected way, and it’s definitely not only for the most die-hard Kim fans.
In case you haven’t heard, on Monday, Sept. 14th, four of the five Kardashian-Jenner sisters released websites and corresponding apps that are engineered to focus on them, and only them. Each is designed specifically to each sister’s style aesthetic, each has loads of video, audio, photographic, and live-streaming content, and each app has content that lies behind a paywall.
For $2.99 a month each, you can access the inner world of each sister (save for Kourtney) and watch beauty tutorials and live streaming footage, see exclusive photos, and read what seem like journal entries written by each girl.
Now, if you’re not a fan of the Kardashians like myself, I’m sure these releases seem, at the very least, like overkill. Aren’t these women overexposed already? Kim Kardashian West began her career (if we’re going to discount her actual job as a stylist) with a sex tape. Kylie Jenner is hardly 18 and has already experienced her fair share of bad press, and Kendall Jenner has been roundly criticized for appearing on catwalks all over the world in revealing clothing. Isn’t enough enough?
With a television show specifically targeted toward chronicling their every move, why release apps? Why make people pay for them?
The content makes the answer to this question a little clearer, and nowhere is it more apparent than on Kim Kardashian West’s app.
Most people assume that the Kardashians made their fame on their personalities, and have little to no talent to warrant their millions of devoted fans. But a quick scan of Kim Kardashian West’s app shows that the brand may be headed in a different direction entirely, one that more closely dovetails with their makeup and beauty lines.
Kim and her sisters are engineering their apps to be a sort of catch-all encyclopedia based not only on their lives and photos and opinions, but on their statuses as beauty and style authorities. It also makes certain that they have a platform specifically for controlling their narratives.
Kim has been teasing beauty tutorials for months, as has Kylie Jenner. Arguably, these two women have the most to offer their apps, as they are the most exposed and the most talked about. Kendall’s app is comparatively sparse, and Khloe’s is much more focused on fitness and wellness than beauty and style. Kourtney doesn’t even have one at all.
Today, I unlocked a seven-day free trial of the girls’ apps, and found Kim’s, unsurprisingly, to be the best designed and full of the most interesting content.
But another thing that struck me about Kim’s app was the total lack of “Kardashian shenanigans.” The tone differs greatly from the tone of their show, and the playfulness that dominates their social media accounts (most notably Instagram) is absent. Kim’s app, as well as her sisters’, are elegant, classy, sophisticated, and subtle—almost the complete opposite of the sensational style of their show, which operates on the principle of, “What will these girls do next?”
On the front page of Kim’s app, which will be updated daily, viewers will find a heartfelt written letter that chronicles Kim’s experience with Caitlyn Jenner’s transition, in the hopes that others will read, watch, and be aware of the truth of being transgender.
Under the heading “Beauty,” viewers will see a calm, quiet Kim in her video makeup tutorials, letting her makeup artist Mario Dedivanovic take the lead with the narration. She offers style tips and underneath the videos, you’ll find a breakdown of the products with an option to find a “budget buy” product for the common woman. You’ll see Kim giving the limelight to someone else, in order for her fans to get the true Kim experience. And there are no cartoons in sight, and no one talking about sex or cursing up a storm.
Kim seems like she’s growing up, evolving, and once again, building upon her fame to make herself even more deeply embedded into pop culture.
You can “get the look” of Kim’s Glamour cover story, watch her play with the adorable North, see a breakdown of her most recent outfits, and follow along on her daily Instagrammable escapades. The entire thing is subtle, glamorous without being exhibitionist at all, and it reads like a Vogue issue devoted entirely to Kim. It’s even a bit soothing.
It’s a combination of blog, Twitter, Instagram and magazine. It takes the focus away from Kim’s personality, and onto her style and beauty tips. It makes you more estranged from the star, while also making you feel like you’ve never known her better. It controls the narrative and makes those scathing articles written about her/them much less powerful, because this unprecedented move (perhaps the closest would be Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop) means that their voices are stronger then ever.
As for why the clan decided to tuck content behind a paywall? Well, after all, they are businesswomen buttressing their empire. Capitalists at heart, they’re aware that you’ll want to pay to see them. And so far, it’s definitely working.