Hello Kitty’s Origin and Journey Through the Years

In 1974 when the Tokyo established company, Sanrio asked designer Ikuko Shimizu to contrive a cartoon character, which would charm girls in their preteens to adorn a plastic purse for collecting coins she created a character that would win over the Japanese people’s hearts. Shimizu designed a white furry cat in blue overalls and sporting a red bow on the head. The cat was introduced on 1st November 1974. The kitty was shown sitting between a pet goldfish and a milk bottle with her head tilted to one side to face its friends. She was cute rather kawaii as its known in Japanese, which was fast becoming the trademark of Japan’s consumer culture. The character was originally known as Kitty White, but later came to be known famously as Hello Kitty.

Tokyo-based Sanrio has about 400 flagship characters. Established as the Yamanashi Silk Center in 1960 by Shintaro Tsuji the company changed its name to Sanrio. Hello Kitty and other characters account for 91.5% of the company’s sales. Sanrio’s initial plan was to support the customary Japanese practice of presenting novelties which encourage bonding between friends, acquaintances and family at small occasions or bring cheer.

Influenced by the deep admiration the Japanese had in 1970’s for the British the character is depicted as a character originating from London suburbs and living with her family members comprising a twin sister Mimmy white, mother Mary White and Father George White. The Whites have an extensive social group of characters which were introduced in due course of time. Kitty also got a boyfriend by the name Dear Daniel before her silver jubilee in 1999.

Absence of Kitty’s mouth has been debated time and again with some critics arguing that it represents the uncommunicative and submissive character typical of Japanese culture and counter arguments that her fans could interpret her blank stare in different ways.

Newspaper daily, The Times of London reports that Hello Kitty has an assortment of 12,000 in the market and adding or pruning about 600 assortments each year. Hello Kitty is present in almost all markets from stationary, theme parks, a specially designed car to specialized Hello Kitty cabs.

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