Most Recognisable Cat in the World? Hello Kitty Craze

Today, Hello Kitty adorns over 50,000 product lines across 130 countries. Liked by young, old, male and female alike, the ever popular feline has one of the largest fan bases in the world. But who is Hello Kitty and what made her so popular? This blog reveals all.Hello Kitty Japan

The Hello Kitty Story

In 1974 Hello Kitty was born! By 1980, Hello Kitty’s popularity began to fade as children, unexposed to her over other media channels such as cartoon, began to lose interest. To revitalise Hello Kitty’s image, in 1986, designer Yuko Yamaguchi, much to the dismay of Sanrio officials, ‘beheaded’ the beloved cat. From 1987 onwards, Hello Kitty, in an attempt to remain contemporary and be accessible to all ages, began to follow popular fashion trends. The first trend Hello Kitty sported was monochrome. The 00’s saw Hello Kitty’s popularity spread to the US and beyond as she morphed into an array of different animals ranging from fish to giraffes. In 2014, to celebrate her 40th birthday, LA hosted a Hello Kitty convention. Full of iconic Hello Kitty memorabilia, this event drew in an audience of 25,000 people from around the world.

The Hello Kitty Craze

Thanks to Hello Kitty’s cuteness and ever changing image, she is a popular favourite to many (even celebrities such as Britney Spears, Lady GaGa and Mariah Carey have been seen sporting their paraphernalia!). However, perhaps Hello Kitty’s largest fan base is adults who, along with Hello Kitty, are entering their 40th year. Testament to this fact can be seen in The Japan Time’s article, The Cat’s Whiskers of Kawaii. In this article, adults reportedly queued outside of the Mitsukoshi department store in Tokyo for hours in the hope of receiving an autograph from Hello Kitty designer, Yuko Yamaguchi. But why is Hello Kitty so popular? According to The Guardian, when asked this question, designer Yuko Yamaguchi said, “she creates friendship and makes people happy…she’s like a blank canvas, and her fans transcend generation and gender – people just love everything about Hello Kitty”.  When asked the same question by The Week, branding expert, Dorie Clark, put Hello Kitty’s popularity down to the fact that “she’s stoic, she’s expressionless, and people can put onto her almost any kind of emotion…she can mean almost anything to anyone”.  

But Wait…Is Hello Kitty Actually a Cat?

Shockingly, creator of Hello Kitty, Sanrio, admitted that our favourite Japanese cat is actually not a cat at all, but rather a little girl. According to a report in the Daily Mail, 'She is not a cat. She's never depicted on all fours. She walks and sits like a two-legged creature. She does have a pet cat of her own, however, and it's called Charmmy Kitty.' That’s right, our beloved Hello (not) Kitty is a young third-grader named Kitty White who lives just outside of London! If you’re a fan of all things feline, check out our wonderful range of lucky cat goodies. From soft toys and kokeshi dolls to bowls and crystal animals, if you or someone you know love cats, The Japanese Shop has something for you.
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