Ka-ching and bling for Hello Kitty at 35

October 28th, 2009 by Felicity Hughes

This music player is decorated with 300 crystals

This music player is decorated with 300 crystals

Celebrating her 35th birthday this year, Hello Kitty’s popularity shows no signs of abating. Just like Madonna, she seems capable of endlessly reinventing herself to appeal to fresh audiences.

This sparkly Hello Kitty music player, for instance, on sale from Oct. 30, should appeal to streetwise girls with an eye for bling. Decorated with 300 Swarovski crystal elements the gadget goes for ¥13,800 — no cheap, yet not exactly high end either. The price is an indicator that while many designer brands seem to be taking a big hit on the high street, Japan’s love affair with Kitty is still going strong. Especially considering that the functions of the player are a little less than stunning; it offers only 2GB of storage, that’s space for only about 480 songs.

Sanrio, who produce Hello Kitty products, have unleashed a plethora of new items this year. From suitcases to foldable chairs, it could even be possible to furnish your house entirely in Hello Kitty paraphernalia.

While Kitty’s dominant color scheme tends to be pink, she can come in many guises − and not all of them cute. This gothic Lolita Hello Kitty was created by Japanese designer H Naoto in honor of the character’s 35th anniversary. “Hello Kitty can wear Laura Ashley but also punk rock leather. She has a wide audience, and she’s very flexible because everything goes with white,” said Kitty’s chief designer Yuko Yamaguchi in an interview with The Times back in 2004.

Kitty is a popular souvenir, especially when she dresses up in special costumes to indicate the area she was bought in, for example, in Fukushima she’s been transformed into a red cow (akabeko) and dressed up as a deer in Hokkaido.

While commemorative events appear to be drawing to a close in Japan, the Three Apples Hello Kitty Exhibition in Los Angeles at the Royal/T Art Space, has just begun and continues until Nov. 15. Hello Kitty’s chief designer Yuko Yamaguchi is flying to London today for a whistle-stop tour of department stores around Europe where she will be on hand to sign products for fans.

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