Kendall Jenner's 818 Tequila Brand Explained After Star Accused of Cultural Appropriation

Kendall Jenner has joined the ever-growing list of celebrities launching their own tequila brands, but her foray into the drinks has been met with fierce backlash.

The Keeping Up With The Kardashians star announced in February she would launch her 818 tequila brand, which officially hit the shelves earlier this week.

Ahead of the official U.S. rollout, Jenner shared the promo campaign on her Instagram profile, drawing plenty of heat on social media.

Here's a breakdown of the criticism surrounding the brand.

What is Jenner being accused of?

In the pictures and video she shared on Instagram, the 25-year-old wears the kind of outfit and hairstyle at times associated with Mexican workers.

The look, however, has caused a stir on social media, where Jenner has been accused of cultural appropriation and hijacking Mexican apparel. The model has been lambasted for sporting a "chic migrant worker look", amid criticism she wore a traditional outfit as if it were a costume.

At the same time, others have argued Mexican workers do not in fact wear either the clothes nor the hairstyle Jenner shows off in the promotional video, and have accused her of perpetuating a lazy cultural stereotype.

According to TMZ, however, the video and the photoshoot were specifically intended to highlight the workers making the product.

Meanwhile, a lengthy Twitter thread drew a lot of attention after pointing out that by establishing her tequila business in Jalisco, Jenner dealt a major blow to many Mexican families that either produce tequila for Mexican brands or run their own small businesses.

WHY YOU SHOULDN’T BUY KENDALL JENNERS 818 TEQUILA? thread for my non mexican mutuals explaining 🇲🇽

— rex is zayn’s bestie ! 🇲🇽🇵🇸 (@talkfastloueh) May 19, 2021

The thread also suggested that workers employed by Jenner's tequila brand may receive a relatively low salary, given production costs in Mexico are considerably lower than in the U.S.

It also questioned why Jenner would produce tequila in Mexico but sell it only in the U.S., a strategy that's almost unheard of among tequila producers.

Why is the tequila called 818?

Jenner's tequila reportedly takes its name from the 818 area code, which covers several cities in California including Agoura Hills, Burbank, Glendale, La Canada, Flintridge and San Fernando.

Calabasas, where Jenner was raised and the Kardashians live, also falls within the boundaries of the 818 area, although the city officially utilizes an area code overlay in which codes 747 and 818 serve the same geographic area.

In short, it would appear the name is simply Jenner paying homage to her roots.

Kendall Jenner promoting 818 tequila
Kendall Jenner is seen promoting her line of Tequila, "818" on May 17 in Los Angeles, California. Bellocqimages/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images/Getty Images

Where is 818 on sale at?

For the time being, 818 is only available in California and can be bought at BevMo, Mel and Rose, Ralph's, Target and Total Wine and More. When it launched on Monday, the tequila was available online through the official 818 website but it has since sold out.

Jenner said on Instagram there are plans to roll out the product nationwide over the summer.

Is this the first controversy involving Jenner and a drink?

It is not. Back in 2017, the model featured in a Pepsi ad in which she walked away from a crowd of protesters calling for love and peace before offering a can of the soft drink to a police officer.

As the officer accepts the offer, he smiles and the crowd cheers. The campaign was accused of undermining the Black Lives Matter protests and Jenner was criticized for embodying the "white, privileged" protester.

one thing about kendall is put a drink in her hand and she’ll give you an insulting ad campaign

— haley o'shaughnessy (@HaleyOSomething) May 19, 2021

Following the backlash, Jenner offered a tearful apology on the season 14 premiere of Keeping Up With The Kardashians.

"I just feel really, really bad," she told Kim Kardashian.

"I feel really bad that anyone was ever offended. I feel really bad that this was taken such a wrong way and I genuinely feel like [rubbish]. [...]

"If I knew this was gonna be the outcome I would have never done something like this. But you don't know when you're in the moment. I just felt so stupid.

"The fact that I would offend other people or hurt other people was definitely not my intent and that's what got me the most, is that I would ever make anyone else upset."