The Kardashian family, commonly known as the Kardashian–Jenner family, is a well-known American family in reality television, entertainment, fashion design, and commerce. Kris Jenner and Robert Kardashian founded it, and it is made up of their children Kourtney, Khloé, Kim, and Rob Kardashian, along with their grandchildren.
Kris Jenner married Caitlyn Jenner (then Bruce) after her divorce from Robert in 1991, and they had two daughters, Kylie and Kendall Jenner. Kylie and Kendall’s half-siblings (through Caitlyn and her relationship with actress Linda Thompson), Brody and Brandon Jenner, are notably extended relatives.
In this article, we’ll take a look at the incredible Kardashian Empire, one of America’s well-known families who has graced television screens for 20 seasons and 14 years.
The Origin Story
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The Kardashians didn’t magically appear out of nowhere and take over your newsfeed. They didn’t appear from Paris Hilton’s closet, trained to be her heirs to the artificial L.A. throne. Their dominance resulted from a long process that began decades before reality television’s stratospheric rise.
When the show first aired on E! in 2007, its blueprint was an obvious reality. It featured a well-known family of eight — the parents, Caitlyn (previously Bruce before her transition) and Kris Jenner, the Kardashian children Kourtney, Kim, Khloé, and Rob, and the Jenner daughters Kylie and Kendall – who lived in the picturesque Los Angeles suburb Calabasas.
There were love triangles, wild parties, sibling feuds, and mayhem. It wasn’t a new genre, especially with a slew of reality shows airing in the late 2000s, including those delivered by famous personalities. However, Keeping Up With the Kardashians had a cast and a plot that catapulted it to unprecedented success.
Before the episode aired, the family was already well-known thanks to their father, the late Robert Kardashian, who served as O.J. Simpson’s defense attorney. Kim Kardashian-West rose to prominence as Paris Hilton’s pal, and the tape drew even more attention to her.
However, as each episode (and later spin-off shows) took viewers deeper and further into the family’s lives, media interest blossomed into a full-fledged audience immersed in their complexities. According to Forbes, the first two seasons drew over two million viewers.
The Kardashian-Jenners’ meteoric rise was not a coincidence nor a stroke of luck. The brand they created was an excellent fit for a developing social media puzzle. When sites like Twitter and Instagram first became popular, it didn’t take long for the siblings to adapt — they were the blueprint for the future influencer.
Every episode or comment they made (no matter how relatable, provocative, funny, or controversial) elicited a social buzz. From the simplest of symbols, such as Blackberry cell phones, the “K” alliteration, and their rhetoric (“Bible,” anyone?) to their on-screen moments, style, and relationships, they possessed a remarkable virality rarely seen in other reality television characters.
This was most visible with Kardashian-West, who made a name for herself in mainstream culture with her famous selfies and emotions. Her in-person selfie-taking became so famous that it was immortalized in a Madame Tussauds wax figure in 2011.
Selfish, a coffee table book centered on, you guessed it, her iconic selfies was released in 2015. That same year, she debuted Kimoji Emojis, a collection of branded emoticons that ranged from a covered peach to her not-so-Kourtney-approved sobbing face. You could, if you weren’t her, at least exude her with a simple tap.
The Family Tree of the Kardashian-Jenners
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Beginning with reality television, the Kardashian-Jenner family has developed into an empire that is only expanding as they have more children and partnerships.
Here’s a look at the Kardashian-Jenner family tree.
What Started It All
In 1978, Robert Kardashian married Kris Jenner, then Kris Houghton, a powerful defense attorney who represented O.J. Simpson during his ’95 murder trial. Before divorcing in 1991, they had four children: Kourtney, Khloé, Kim, and Robert Kardashian Jr. Robert died of cancer in 2003, at 59.
Kris divorced her first husband, Olympic gold winner Caitlyn Jenner, then known as Bruce Jenner. In 1991, the two tied the knot and had two children together, Kylie and Kendall Jenner.
Caitlyn’s third wife was Kris. She previously married Linda Thompson, with whom she has two renowned sons, Brody and Brandon. Caitlyn and Linda divorced in 1986.
Caitlyn was previously married to Chrystie Crownover from 1972-1981, with whom she has two children, Burt and Cassandra. Caitlyn’s third marriage did not work out, and she divorced Kris in 2015 when she came out as transgender.
Kourtney’s Family Expands
Kourtney, the oldest of the Kardashian sisters, was the first to give birth to her children. Penelope, Mason, and Reign are her three children with ex-boyfriend Scott Disick.
Kim’s Family Grows
Before marrying her current husband, artist Kanye West, Kim had two marriages, albeit their marriage is on the rocks. Damon Thomas from 2000-2004 and Kris Humphries from 2011-2013 were her past marriages.
North, her first child with Kanye, was born in June 2013. The following year, they married. Kanye and Kim had three more children together, Chicago, Saint, and Psalm.
However, the celebrity couple’s fortunes took a turn for the worse in January 2021, when Page Six reported that Kanye and Kim were divorcing.
Rob Begins Fatherhood
Rob and Blac Chyna had their first kid, Dream, in 2016, before their relationship ended. Chyna, however, had already given birth to a child. She has a son named Cairo with rapper Tyga, Kylie’s ex-boyfriend.
Chyna and Rob had a difficult relationship, but they agreed to share custody in December 2020.
Khloé Has Her Child
True Thompson, Khloé’s first child with ex-boyfriend and N.B.A. player Tristan Thompson, was born in April 2018. Thompson made news for hooking up with Kylie’s best pal Jordyn Woods while Khloé was expecting their child. Despite the controversy, Thompson and Khloé are still co-parenting True.
Thompson is also the father of Prince, his son with former Jordan Craig.
Kylie Becomes a Mom
Kylie startled fans by revealing that she, too, would be expecting a child in the same year as Khloé. She and her boyfriend Travis Scott welcomed their daughter Stormi in 2018 and have recently welcomed another child, this time a boy.
Kendall has no children yet, but the family tree will continue to develop.
The Kardashians and How They Changed Everything
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Even non-watchers may feel the Kardashian’s influence; after all, the Kardashian’s influence on celebrity, business, beauty, and status can be seen on social media and magazine covers, in e-commerce and shopping malls, and on people’s faces.
Here are a handful of the ways the family influenced not only television but also culture in general:
Keeping Up With the Kardashians Made a Regular-Rich Family Famous
The show’s self-aware tackiness was evident in the opening titles throughout its early seasons. The family, clad in satin and sequins, poses in front of a cityscape. A silly whistling song plays in the background as they pose for a picture and compete for attention.
These people are undoubtedly well-off, as seen by their spacious homes and supposedly relaxing work schedules. They are, nonetheless, striving.
Seven years later, Kim is on the cover of Vogue with, Kanye West. After a few more years, Kylie, the youngest, is designated a billionaire (a term that has since been changed, but she’s still rich). They all own multimillion-dollar mansions, are followed by millions of users on social media and are extremely wealthy in business enterprises.
It’s simple to explain that it could have happened to any family, yet the notion that the Kardashians are “renowned for doing nothing” persists. But this wasn’t just an ordinary family. And the figures continue to rise.
They Constructed a Multi-Brand Empire
There was the store, then the beauty collections (Kylie Cosmetics pioneered “lip kits”), a hit video game (Kim Kardashian: Hollywood), clothing lines (Skims, Kendall + Kylie, and the Kardashian Kollection sold at Sears for the younger fans, Good American, and the Kardashian Kollection sold at Sears for the thriftier ones), sci-fi books (thank you, Kendall and Kylie), a prepaid credit card, and countless brand collaborations.
It’s not odd for celebrities and influencers to launch items using their names. What distinguishes the Kardashians is their marketing of said brands, which they weaved into their show, and their reported life changes and interpersonal disputes, which made viewers feel connected to the family.
Now, the landscape has shifted, mostly due to their actions. They don’t need a T.V. show to sell their products like they did when “K. U.W.T.K.” first aired over a decade ago. They hold the majority of the authority. When you can control your public image, communicate directly with your followers on social media, and make millions? That’s a fantastic deal.
Influence of the Kardashians
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Even the sisters’ signature drowsy, the sing-song accent has become engrained in popular culture. It may be seen on TikTok with the “Kylie Jenner Accent Challenge” and “Kourtney Kardashian Accent Challenge,” along with Jenner’s “Rise and Shine” wake-up call. They join a long list of legendary moments, like Kris Jenner’s “you’re doing amazing, sweetie,” which became so well-known that she applied for a trademark on the one-liner last year.
This frenzy may appear to be a cultural trend to the uninitiated, yet the sisters and program have retained a devoted following since. On Instagram, there are several fan profiles with millions of followers combined.
But, aside from their television personas, what else could they offer? Their involvement in other disciplines evolved almost naturally due to their influence on the screen and on-air.
They’ve spent the last 14 years absorbed in the world of fashion. With their lives on display, what they decided to wear and how they wore it dominated the news. They developed a distinct Kardashian look and style, establishing themselves as important style icons with a flair for moving with and ultimately becoming the trend.
From wide waist-cinching belts and cheetah print, they’ve grown into a sleek, simple, and, most crucially, an achievable category that’s dominated social media. A neutral-toned, athleisure-shapewear ensemble – think biker shorts and giant crew necks, tight sweatpants and tub tops, or scoop neck bodycon dresses with bomber jackets (and stilettos) – is easily recognizable as “Kardashian.”
Because of their forward-thinking character, they were able to break into the fashion world, where they made connections with stylists, designers, and editors. They sat front row at exclusive fashion shows like Louis Vuitton, Balmain, Dior, Givenchy, Longchamp, and high-powered events like the Met Gala.
With this much clout, it’s only logical that they’d be interested in fashion. DASH, a Calabasas women’s store operated by the trio, peaked in the 2010s with three more sites (New York, Miami’s SoHo, and Southampton) and a show based on its Hollywood employees.
Despite the store’s closure in 2018, Khloé had Good American, a size-inclusive apparel company, and Kardashian-West was working on her shapewear and loungewear brand Skims, which launched in 2019. It was such a significant effect that Kylie and Kendall Jenner appeared on the scene as fashion week goers and campaign and runway models and as the developers of their own clothing company Kendall+Kylie.
Beauty was not left out either. They became the face of a new form of everyday glam that many emulated, with their classic accentuated and sculpted cheekbones, lined nude lips, baked foundation, and subtle smokey eye.
Kylie Jenner debuted her famed Lip Kits in 2015, ushering her into the world of beauty entrepreneurship. They were so popular with her fans that they sold out in minutes, resulting in the establishment of Kylie Cosmetics, which currently includes a variety of tools and makeup, along with the skincare collection Kylie Skin.
Kardashian-West has dabbled in beauty, launching K.K.W. Fragrance and K.K.W. Beauty in 2017. Both have worked on product launches with their sisters.
Their fame in the beauty world is mirrored on YouTube, where their beauty regimens and get ready with me videos have amassed millions of viewers. Kim Kardashian-West even posted a work-from-home beauty routine that 2.5 million people were interested in. You’ll discover comparable beauty stuff showcasing her Kardashian sisters that have received millions of views if you go to Jenner’s page.
However, their businesses were not always sure, demonstrating that all start-ups, including those undertaken by the Kardashian-Jenners, suffer difficulties. The Kardashians originally led a makeup line called Khroma Beauty, which was sued for copyright infringement and lacked input from the name placed on the items, departing from the “genuine” branding they’re now known for.
In 2017, the Jenner sisters were sued for using images of famous bands such as The Notorious B.I.G., Tupac, and The Doors on their tee shirts. Jenner’s billionaire status was questioned more recently after Forbes withdrew the 23-year-old’s designation. What was claimed to be a behemoth of financial success turned overblown figures.