Hello Kitty Is 35 Years Old!
The cute character from Japan celebrates her big year with fashion shows and product launches
In the Beginning
Hello Kitty made her first appearance as a decoration on a vinyl coin purse, produced in Japan in 1974 by the company Sanrio. According to her website biography, Kitty's full name is Kitty White and she resides in London. She is good at "making cookies" and she collects "small cute things, like candy, stars and goldfish."
The Hello Kitty Family
A year after Kitty's debut, Sanrio introduced her father George White (top left), mother Mary (top right) and twin sister Mimmy (lower left), who, we are told, is Kitty's best friend.
Yuko Yamaguchi, who has designed Hello Kitty for 29 of the character's 35 years, says Kitty did not gain in popularity until the mid-1980s.
The original Kitty was targeted to children, but designer Yamaguchi heard from older kids who were drawn to the character but were embarrassed by its childish quality. So in 1987, Sanrio began to produce a Kitty that might appeal to older audiences, like the black and white rendering that was released in 1987, above.
As Kitty's popularity grew, Sanrio took her to the airwaves with a series of animated television shows. Hello Kitty's Furry Tale Theater was first produced in 1987. Hello Kitty's Paradise, above, ran from 1993 to 1994.
Kitty got her biggest boost when she was adopted by A-list celebrities like Mariah Carey and Paris Hilton, who accessorized with a Kitty clutch at a book signing in 2004, above.
By her 30th birthday, in 2004, Kitty had been seen around the globe and featured on every manner of apparel. To celebrate, Sanrio teamed with the Australian mint to issue gold and silver Kitty coins, the most expensive of which cost $1,100.
The Hello Kitty Ribbon Lunch Box, which included chicken pilaf, hamburger steak, deep-fried prawn, an omelet and a Kitty-shaped baked potato, was offered in 2004. Price: $9.
Over the years, Kitty has partnered with a variety of designers, in particular Victoria Couture, whose 2007 runway show in California featured a model dressed as the popular feline.
To Have and to Hold
This "Hello Kitty Dream Wedding," held on Valentine's Day in 2007, began in Hong Kong's subway, where a specially-designed wedding train whisked the betrothed to Central Station for the recitation of their vows.
Future Kitty Fans
More than 2,000 babies have been born at this Hello Kitty–themed maternity hospital in Taiwan. The owner of the hospital licensed the Kitty character on the recommendation of his wife and daughters, who thought that images of the famed feline would help expecting mothers relax.
In honor of Kitty's 35th year, Swarovsky made a Hello Kitty doll studded with 403 pink sapphires and 1,939 pieces of white topaz. A 1.027-carat diamond is embedded in her ribbon, while a citrine serves as her nose and black spinels her eyes. Priced at $150,000, the doll is a fitting present for the queen of cute. Happy birthday, Kitty!
Hello Kitty Is 35 Years Old! The cute character from Japan