Reality TV royalty and businesswoman Khloé Kardashian on self-belief, body image and why family always comes first
She may be one of the world’s most famous reality-TV brood, but it’s KHLOE KARDASHIAN’s understanding of what ‘normal’ women want, plus old-fashioned business sense, that have seen her denim brand hit a multimillion- dollar bottom line
The Kardashians are family by blood, but we’re friends by choice
K hloé Kardashian is known as the most relatable member of her famous family – and the reality TV star, bestselling author and entrepreneur lives up to that reputation in person. I’ve met her before and when I arrive at her house (which used to belong to Justin Bieber), hidden away in an exclusive gated community outside Los Angeles, she bounds over to greet me, all smiles and hugs. Her bright kitchen overlooks a beautifully manicured lawn with kumquat trees and a swimming pool. Her black labrador Gabbana is lolling in the sunshine, and amid the luxury there are homely touches, such as collages by her nieces and nephews decorating the fridge.
It’s 9am and Khloé has been up since 4.30, driving 25 miles to a Beverly Hills gym to film a dawn exercise session for the upcoming 14th season of Keeping Up With the Kardashians, the phenomenally successful show chronicling the lives of the entire clan: Khloé, her elder sisters Kim and Kourtney, her brother Rob and her half-sisters Kylie and Kendall.
‘People probably think we sleep all day,’ laughs Khloé, but she inherited a rigorous work ethic from her late father, businessman and lawyer Robert Kardashian (who was on O J Simpson’s defence team in his murder trial), and her industrious mother, the Kardashian clan’s manager Kris Jenner. Her parents divorced when she was six and Kris went on to marry Olympic athlete Bruce – now Caitlyn – Jenner.
Khloé, once the target of cruel online attacks about her weight, looks super sleek, flaunting those famous Kardashian curves in black Nike leggings. She lost 40lb after splitting up with her husband, the troubled former basketball player Lamar Odom, in 2013 (for the past year she has been dating 26-year- old Canadian basketball player Tristan Thompson) and now has 68.5 million Instagram followers and her own TV show Revenge Body.
For her latest venture, she has created a denim line with businesswoman Emma Grede.
Good American jeans are marketed as a ‘revolution’ because they come in sizes from double zero to 24. When the brand launched in the US last autumn, it made $1 million on the first day (a record for a denim label). This month Khloé and Emma are expanding their range with a new line of Good American Sweats tracksuits.
Here, Khloé discusses everything from body image to why family always comes first.
When I was younger I never wore jeans because I was too embarrassed.
I would go shopping with my sisters and the [sales assistants] would say, ‘Oh, we don’t stock your size here.’ It was mortifying. Just because you’re bigger or curvier, it doesn’t mean you don’t want to be stylish.
Good American jeans are all about empowerment.
We cut them to fit a fuller figure, rather than straight up and down. We decided we would not sell in a department store unless they took the collection in all sizes. We hope to break down barriers.
I experienced body shaming in high school.
My sisters and I went to a girls’ private school and when I started, aged 13, the teacher read out my name and said ‘Khloé Kardashian… Are you related to Kourtney and Kim?’ I said, ‘Yes, they’re my sisters.’ She said, ‘Are you sure?’ She never said I was fat, but I knew she was referring to my size. Words are the best weapon we have; they cut the deepest and they last for ever.
I don’t like the term plus size.
Why point out that someone is bigger than someone else? I’m a [British] size 8 to 10 now, and at my biggest I was a 16 to 18, but I never considered myself fat. I don’t mean you should be 400lb [28½st], eating bags of crisps and saying, ‘Oh, I’m just big,’ but you could be size 24, work out and be healthy.
My sisters wear Good American jeans and my mum loves them, which makes me feel good because they’re hard to please.
They’re supportive, but they wouldn’t wear them if they didn’t like them.
My father was incredibly wealthy. We had a mansion in Beverly Hills and Rolls-Royces.
My parents would have extravagant parties. We had ponies and Ferris wheels. It was a beautiful life. My dad had grown up poor; he was self-made and proud of that, as he should have been. He was a smart man. But he was also strict: we would go to feed the homeless on Skid Row, and he didn’t believe in giving us money. None of us had credit cards when we were teenagers, even though all our friends did.
My dad believed you have to work for every dollar.
So from 14 we had to get summer jobs. I worked in his office as an assistant and in a clothing store, but because I was only 14, I wasn’t allowed to be on the cash register and I had to clean the back rooms and the toilets instead. My dad was also strict about us being close as a family and instilling strong values. We had dinner together every night; those traditions make you who you are later in life.
I was 19 when my father died
[of oesophageal cancer, aged 59]. It was very stressful, everyone was figuring out their grief and we were lost. I think I was in denial. A lot of my hair fell out – I think it was because I internalised my emotions. It was hard not to have him there. I was really angry. It helped when I started talking about it, but it took me three years just to understand and accept it.
We didn’t get one dollar when he died.
We got no inheritance, not his home or his cars or anything. I was working for him at the time and his company got taken away so I didn’t have a job, and it was a lot to process at one time. I don’t think people realise that none of us had trust funds. I got evicted from my apartment because I couldn’t pay my rent, so I moved in with Kourtney and we started Dash [a chain of boutiques] together. Financially, that was a good learning experience for a 19-year- old – to know that when you’re getting a pay cheque, you can’t just spend it all!
My sisters bossed me around when I was younger.
I was the only employee in our store
➤ for three years, so when they got asked to go somewhere cool, I was the one stuck behind. When we were younger we were jealous of one another, but not in a malicious way.
There is no rivalry between us now.
We all have our own identities. Kendall and I were exercising this morning, and I asked, ‘When was the last time you worked out?’ And she said, ‘A few weeks ago.’ And I’m, like, ‘Ugh, it’s not fair!’ because she is a supermodel with a perfect body! But [the banter] is playful and we come from a place of two heads are better than one, and three are better than two. Why would I not want to share my success with my family?
My mum was 22 when she married my dad, who was 12 years older than her.
She didn’t have to work and she was with us all the time, but she learned so much from my dad. When she divorced him and married Bruce [now Caitlyn] Jenner, she revitalised Bruce’s career. My mum is so confident and powerful.
We’re successful as a family because my mother has always believed in us.
She would sit in meetings in front of the highest executives and say, ‘My children can do X, Y and Z.’ People ask, ‘Is it hard having your mother as a manager?’ And I say, ‘Of course it is.’ We are constantly together and sometimes it’s difficult to differentiate a business deal from a family thing. But no other manager would believe in us like our mother does.
My boyfriend is very protective of me. Feeling loved and validated and secure is a huge thing.
Tristan is protective of my entire family, which is beautiful. And I love that everything we do is as a union. When he speaks, it’s ‘us’ and ‘we,’ and that’s important because it shows that you’re sharing life. The best thing is that we’re able to communicate about anything, and I think a lot of relationships don’t flourish because people are afraid to voice their opinion, not wanting to rock the boat.
I love to cook, and Tristan loves everything I make.
But I don’t think men realise how long things take. I make dishes from scratch, and he’ll be, like, ‘Can you make me an apple pie?’ I say, ‘Do you know how long it takes?’ He loves Cinnabons [cinnamon rolls], so I learned how to make them by watching a YouTube video. I ended up teaching my mum to make them, too.
It’s good to find someone who has the same belief system and morals as you because it makes things easy.
Tristan and I are both Christians; we go to church, we pray, we’re vocal about God and spirituality. A lot of my girlfriends get pregnant without talking about things such as religion with
their significant others and then find they have different belief systems to them.
I definitely want a family, but I don’t feel any pressure.
Tristan is a great dad [he has an eight-month- old son with his previous partner] and he definitely wants more children, but we both feel that it will happen when the time is right. We’re still in a new relationship and I love us having time together. Once you have kids you can’t get back your non-kid years. My sisters and I bother my mum all the time, so I know it’s not, like, ‘When they’re 18, you don’t worry about them again.’ You worry about your children for the rest of your life. The concern I have is raising little human beings in a world that’s filled with such hate and terror. That seems very scary.
I’m in the best relationship I’ve ever been in and it doesn’t take a ring for me to feel that way.
I believe in marriage and I want to be married again one day but I don’t have a time frame. Why do people think that marriage equates to happiness? There are a lot of people in unhealthy marriages.
My house is the fun house for my nieces and nephews.
We do arts and crafts and bake a lot. We like to play outside and in the pool, just being goofy. I have water balloons and we have water fights. I’m like a big kid myself. At night when I babysit them we have dance parties. I love to give their mums the evening off.
The worst thing that happened to us in the past year was Kim’s robbery
[in a gunpoint hold-up at her private hotel in Paris last October, Kim was robbed of jewellery]. But I’m also grateful that she wasn’t physically hurt. I’m a firm believer that everything happens for a reason and it was almost like God’s way of saying, ‘We need to teach you guys to be more aware of security’ and also, ‘ This can all be gone in an instant so always tell one another you love them – no matter what.’ The robbery was a huge wake-up call for our entire family. I really hate it when people say, ‘Oh, it was Kim’s fault. She was too flashy.’ I could show you hundreds of people on Instagram who show off wads of cash and diamonds.
The best thing that has happened this year was meeting my niece Dream,
my brother Rob’s baby [with Blac Chyna]. She looks exactly like him. I melt when I see him with her because he’s a phenomenal father, just like my dad was.
I think the show has kept our family close.
When people get older, most go their separate ways, they’re busy with their own families. I see my family almost every day. Will I be sad when the show ends? Yes, because it will be the end of an era – not because I won’t be on TV. I have so many other businesses that I would love to indulge in that I don’t have enough time for now. But it will be bittersweet. I’m beyond grateful for everything the show has given me, but mostly for the bond with my family.
I have a fascination with the Kennedy family.
I’m intrigued by their dynamic and their unity. Even after John F Kennedy was assassinated, I love how Jackie was still so connected to her in-laws. What I respect is their love and loyalty to one another – it’s something I relate to. It reminds me of the bond we have in our family. Also, they received a lot of unfair media reports, but they have always held their heads high.
When you have money, it’s easy to buy things for people, but that doesn’t mean you’re there for them.
I’ve helped people pay off their mortgages, paid for their children’s schools, their medical bills… But as corny as it sounds, the nicest thing you can give is your time, like being with friends who are going through divorce, listening to them. I’ve sat in hospital rooms with people for endless hours. I believe the kindest thing I can give is my empathy and my love.
I wouldn’t change my family for anything.
People might look at us and be, like, ‘Oh God. There are so many of them and there’s always drama!’ But there’s drama within any family. I know people who only have one brother and they don’t talk to each other. I’m so blessed. I talk to my brothers and sisters every single day. We are family by blood, but we’re friends by choice. It’s not a requirement. My family is the best. n Good American Sweats is available worldwide now from goodamerican.com
From top: the Kardashian children (from left) Rob, Kourtney, Khloé and Kim with their parents Kris and Robert in 1987; Khloé with her boyfriend Tristan Thompson (left), Kim and brother-in-law Kanye West; the klan (from left) Kris, Khloé, Kendall,...
Khloé as a child with her father Robert