Design Classic

Hello Kitty Turns 35


Hello Kitty turned 35 on November 1; in human years that would make her around 150. She is still innocently cute (or kawaii as the Japanese would say) – and very rich, earning more than a billion dollars a year for licensing her image. She has got her little paws into everything, from toys to backpacks, hair clips to jewelry, writing pads to Airstream trailers, wedding rings to tattoos, assault rifles to adult massage devices, Stratocaster guitars to an Airbus jet, theme maternity hospital in Taiwan to bank debit cards. She has her own theme park, TV anime cartoon series and video games. All this for a little creature with two dots for eyes, a yellow button nose and no mouth at all. Even after 35 years, we don’t even know her name.

Hello Kitty is the cartoon image drawn by designer Ikuko Shimizu for Sanrio. She first appeared on a vinyl coin purse in Japan in 1974 and then popped up in the United States two years later. According to her Wikipedia profile, she lives in England with her parents and identical twin, Mimmy, who can be identified by the fact that she wears different colored clothes and her bow under the opposite ear. (Poor Mimmy has been clearly overshadowed by her charismatic sister; most of us didn’t even know she existed.)

Hello Kitty may not have aged, but her fans have. Everyone from Paris Hilton to Christina Aguilera and Tyra Banks profess to loving her. In 2008, the Christian Dior collection was featured in the Japanese Vogue with Hello Kitty as a model. Bikers and punk rockers embrace her likeness. This is one smart feline; she’s developed a cult following of people who are irresistibly drawn to cute. Not to be catty, but we are green with envy. Meow!