March 9, 2012

DISCUSSION: What's the obsession with Hello Kitty?

Hello Kitty inspired Cookies
So, I'm addicted to Tumblr. I browse Tumblr all day long looking at blogs about clothes, food, fashion, and other cool stuff. My Tumblr account helps me decipher trends. Especially trends of people younger than me.

Admittedly, sitting at me desk job doesn't give me bird's eye view on the pulse of youth subculture as when I worked with youth in the highschool system. In my opinion, youth tend to denote trends. By the time the trends trickle in from the runways, the youth (16-24) learn how to flip the looks and make them their own.

That's why I had to report about this sudden growth in Hello Kitty.

Hello Kitty inspired nail design
Hello Kitty is not a new phenomenon. Actually, the Hello Kitty character was created in 1974 as a way to help the creator, Shintaro Tsuji, sell his brand of plastic sandals. He noticed that the sandals sold quicker when little cartoon characters were painted on them. It was then he created the whole Sanrio family of characters, but Hello Kitty is the most popular.

Hello Kitty hit the US in 1976 when a series of vinyl coin purses were sold at department stores. I actually remember having a Hello Kitty purse when I was around five years old. Now, Hello Kitty is an international success. The official website, Sanrio.com, boosts gifts for babies, girl/teens, and adults.

Hello Kitty hit an apex of popularity in the mid 1990's when celebrities started wearing the designs. This was also around the time of the rise in America's obsession with Japanese street culture. Celebs such as Brittany Spears, Mariah Carey, and Kimora Lee Simmons helped push the Hello Kitty culture forward.

Hello Kitty Silicone Case available on Ebay
So what's the deal with so much Hello Kitty? I think it's a rise in women wanting to go back to being girls. IN a youth cultured society, it's easy to hit a certain age and want to 'stay' there. Why not use Hello Kitty accessories to remind you of the good time.

The cutesy, pink and white aesthetic appeals to many people. The company's branding has been extremely successful. Cell phone cases, luggage, jewelry, and a number of big business collaborations (US Bank had a debit card) helped move the Hello Kitty market forward.

Hello Kitty for MAC Cosmetics
There's no stopping this train. Hello Kitty is here to stay and I'm not against it.

But ladies of a certain age need to get there Hello Kitty high in moderation. I don't mind the cell phone case, maybe a make-up bag, or a shirt for working out. If I walk in your house and you have a Hello Kitty bedspread, I'm gonna give you a supreme side-eye!

Hello Kitty Frames available on Ebay

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