Style Hello Kitty has more than seven lives

Hello Kitty has more than seven lives

Anna Frattini

Yesterday we attended the event organized by GCDS in collaboration with Hello Kitty and PAN Milano, the delightful Japanese pastry shop «where classic viennoiserie pastries meet famous Japanese recipes,» as stated in the event press release. In short, a place that can only exist in post-COVID-19 Milan. I would say that no one better than GCDS – with its enduring commitment to the Y2K imaginary – could organize an event like this. Some awaited a branded cubic brioche, some were busy photographing the window stickers, some queued for the stickers (which I also wanted desperately), some dressed according to the theme. A true revival that made me reflect on the iconic status of Hello Kitty and the importance of this character, who is turning 50 this year.

A few years ago, when I found a stall at the Viale Papiniano market selling only Hello Kitty gadgets, I couldn’t believe it; I bought stickers, keychains, and post-its. There was everything, but I stopped there. It would have been too much even for me to spend more than €15 on items featuring the image of my elementary school reference icon. The Hello Kitty pencil case was not just a style choice but a statement. I realized this only after reading Clara Mazzoleni‘s article in Rivista Studio a few months ago, where the editor highlights some of the most fascinating (and obscure) backstage aspects of the Hello Kitty phenomenon, Sanrio’s mega star, the Japanese company specializing in character creation and its commercialization, as stated on Wikipedia. After all, I couldn’t find an ‘about’ section on the official website, just the temptation to order a My Melody wallet, Hello Kitty’s more submissive cousin.

The message Hello Kitty conveys is one of friendship, kindness, and inclusion, which with its longevity continues to communicate something relevant, starting from all the imagery and multiple reinterpretations to which this character is subjected. The collaboration with GCDS – active since 2017 – works because it takes us back without falling into the banality of a niche icon search. Hello Kitty remains mysteriously current, even 50 years after its birth. As a friend of mine said yesterday, «sometimes to move forward, we need to go back». As banal as it may sound, that’s what happened to me on Viale Papiniano and also yesterday at PAN, while sipping a delicious matcha latte and admiring all the outfits of the girls queuing for a seat.

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Written by Anna Frattini
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