Like many Hello Kitty fans, I’ve been collecting Hello Kitty since I was a child. I remember one of my older cousins giving a red and purple Hello Kitty scratch-and-sniff stationary set that came in a red drawstring purse. I vowed to save my grape scented paper for special occasions, which meant it was never used. On my elementary school playground, friendships were forged and alliances broken with the giving of Hello Kitty pencils and erasers. Now, as a woman in my late 20s, Hello Kitty still makes me happy, and will never be too old to revel in Hello Kitty’s cuteness.
This weekend, the world’s most stylish cartoon cat who really isn’t a cat celebrated her 40th birthday in Downtown LA with the first ever Hello Kitty Convention. Although I do read a couple of comic books, I have never been to any type of fan convention, but this weekend I was more than willing to wake up at 6 AM and wait in line with my fellow fans in honor of the fabulous feline. The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA and the Japanese American National Museum were stocked with artwork, vintage Hello Kitty toys, exclusive sweets from the Hello Kitty Cafe, and creative cosplayers.
Appointment times for the Hello Kitty Tattoo Parlor were given away by 11 AM, and I didn’t get to meet Yuko Yamaguchi, HK Designer, but I enjoyed the colorful Hello Kitty inspired fashions.
Everybody seemed eager to get their hands on some limited edition loot. I definitely didn’t go home without my red limited-edition backpack, that has ears and Hello Kitty’s trademark red bow, Hello Kitty Con t-shirt, Hello Kitty Geisha plush, and a Hello Kitty 40th birthday pillow. There were so many cute collectibles available only at the Con, but luckily I was able to limit my purchases to a few items. I am glad I went early, because wait times to enter the pop-up shop were as long as three hours as the day wore on.
The crowd was quite friendly, and many people bonded in line over their shared love of kitty kitsch. The people who I talked to while in the line included a woman from Australia who had various anime tattoos, a college student from Stockton who had purchased passes for the whole weekend in order to get a free tattoo, and a U.S. army veteran from Colorado.
I was especially excited to see the Hello! Exploring the Supercute World of Hello Kitty exhibit at the Japanese American National Museum. Christine Yano, PhD, author of Pink Globalization: Hello Kitty’s Trek Across the Pacific and Jamie Rivadeneira, founder and owner of the boutique Japan LA curated this exhibit dedicated to the empress of kawaii. The exhibit features more Hello Kitty inspired art, a collection of images from Hello Kitty’s first appearance in 1976 to the present, rare products, and fashions worn by the likes of Lady Gaga and Katy Perry.
Happy birthday Hello Kitty, thanks for making us purr.