Hello Kitty

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(established 1974)

Originally designed as a greetings card for children when launched in 1974 by the Japanese company Sanrio (established 1960), this patented brand cartoon‐like image of a cat (a lucky emblem in Japan) has subsequently been applied to more than 1,000 products ranging from domestic appliances, computer keyboards, personal stereos, and credit cards to sweet wrappers, t‐shirts, and eyelash curlers (see also branding). Hello Kitty even took her place alongside the puppy Pochacoo as one of the Sanrio characters in the Japanese theme park, Puroland, in Tama City, Tokyo. Part of the Japanese Cute (‘Kawaii’) culture phenomenon, Hello Kitty products have penetrated world markets from Hong Kong and other south‐east Asian countries to Britain, where she has featured on t‐shirts in Miss Selfridge and Top Shop. Although primarily geared towards children through the promotion of all kinds of cheap giftware, club culture and young women have also appropriated Hello Kitty as an ironic style statement. She has been applied to more than 3,000 products worldwide producing an annual turnover for Sanrio of more than $9 billion by the early 21st century.

Subjects: Industrial and Commercial Art.

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