History of Hello Kitty

Inside Hello Kitty. Vintage doll
Inside Hello Kitty. Vintage doll

Hello Kitty Bio

Hello Kitty began in London in 1974, as result of a request made by the Japanese Sanrio Company to a young designer, Ikuko Shimizu, to create a character that would appeal to the pink and fluffy tastes of pre-teen girls.

Originally the company wanted the character to feature on a plastic coin purse they were manufacturing and so Shimuzo set about making what woiuld become one of the most iconic and recognisable characters in modern consumerist culture.I guess the designer figured that pre-teens liked cats and cute outfits.

The first Hello Kitty image was of a white cat dressed in blue overalls and sporting a red bow over its left ear. As yet it had no name but was an instant hit with young Japanese girls. as intended , the Kitty's first appearance was on a cute little coin purse and since the image of the cute kitten was such a hit, it sold well.

Along with the cutesy image, Hello Kitty came with a whole biographical background; she lived in London, not Japan, with her mother and father, George and Mary White and her sister Mimmy. Kitty also has Grandparents, Margaret and Anthony White. Physically Kitty, was delieberately undeveloped and her facial features are largely expressionless, though kind. She has no mouth and her infantile, wide-spaced eyes stare directly ahead - the whole impression is of a guileless, sweet-faced innocent.

Hello Kitty made her first appearance on an adorable coin purse
Hello Kitty made her first appearance on an adorable coin purse

Vintage Hello Kitty

Although Hello Kitty was a success in Japan pretty much immediately, it took much longer for the product to take off in the West. However, when the breakthrough happened,sometime in the 1990s, it did so in a big way. The Hello Kitty trademark is now a global phenomenum with licensing arrangements worth more than $10 to $500 billion annually.

In addition, Hello Kitty is no longer just a favourite of the pre-teen scene, as she was originally designed. but rather has developed a cult following in the adult market. There's a certain ironic coolness in Kitty's so obviously cute persona that appeals to a consumer-savvy demographic.

"Sunshine, lollipops and..." Vintage Hello Kitty iunchbox
"Sunshine, lollipops and..." Vintage Hello Kitty iunchbox

A Familiar Face

The Hello Kitty image has been applied to a host of consumer items, from guitars and computers to toasters, handbags, jewellry, phones, ipod covers and much, much more. Kitty also has her own officially licensed theme-based amusement parks - Harmonyland andSanrio Puroland.

The little white kitten with the staring eyes and blank expression has become ubiquitous in modern culture. As a result vintage Hello Kitty products have become highly collectable, commanding high prices, according to scarcity.

Over the years there's been some experimental but subtle changes to Kitty's appearance, such as the substitution of the bow for a daisy flower but overall she's remained relatively unchanged.


Hello Kitty House
Hello Kitty House
Hello Kitty house in Shanghai
Hello Kitty house in Shanghai
Hello Kitty moves into banking
Hello Kitty moves into banking

Hello Kitty Cheques

Just to further cement her legendary status and satiate consumer needs, in 2009 the Bank of America introduced Hello Kitty chequing accounts and credit cards.

Hello Kitty is probably the only product to appear on something as diverse as stickers on one end of the scale and a jet airliner on the other.

Hello Kitty men's underwear
Hello Kitty men's underwear
3D cartoon drawing of Hello Kitty's boyfriend Daniel.
3D cartoon drawing of Hello Kitty's boyfriend Daniel.

Kitty's Lovelife

Just so she doesn't get lonely, Sanrio decided to provide Hello Kitty with a boyfriend called Daniel. Like Kitty Daniel is white and sweet, with the same bland facial features as his friendly feline girlfriend, only instead of a bow, he wears a shock of spiky hair on the top of his head.

Although the marketer's would probably love it, it seems unlikely there will ever be baby Kittys. After all Kitty White is only a kitten.

Vintage Hello Kitty
Vintage Hello Kitty

A Legend

If nothing else, Hello Kitty makes for an interesting study in consumer branding. The trademark kitten is a legend in marketing and her international success is enough to make a grown businessman cry.

Somehow little Kitty went from a relatively obscure pre-teen decorative motif to a multi-billion dollar symbol of ironic, rebellious cool. Every month, 600 new Hello Kitty products come out and 600 others are extinguished - it's a fast moving product with a massive turnover that seems to just keep getting bigger.

Will the Hello Kitty fad die out? Possibly but there's no signs of it happening anytime soon. It's seems the public just loves kittens in bows....


More by this Author

  • 1920s Handbags
    0

    Handbag styles in the 1920s were greatly influenced by the Art Deco design movement that swept through that decade

  • Victoria Beckham's Hair
    0

    There are certain celebrities who are, for whatever mysterious reason, held up as 'style gurus'. . You can't escape them as they permeate the media like a noxious miasma. Whether we wish it or not, we are forced to take...

  • Dark Rings Around the Iris
    0

    Beauty worshippers have found a new feature to covet - a subtle effect that defines the coloured part of the eye and adds an extra lustre and desirability to a person's general attractiveness...


Click to Rate This Article
working