That familiar round white face, pointed ears, six whiskers, triangle nose and slightly askew red bow are everywhere. The beloved and hyper adorable cartoon cat, Hello Kitty, has taken over downtown Los Angeles, making her first US convention appearance one to remember.
Designed originally for a coin purse in 1976 by Yuko Shimizu, which is on display at the convention, Hello Kitty and the Sanrio brand is now a world renowned brand that generates nearly $5 billion a year.
Cuteness, innocence and an abundance of bright colors are what define this cat and her friends who have made one of the largest impacts on pop culture in the last 40 years. Hello Kitty is the epitome of the Kawaii Japanese culture.
Before even entering the indoor setting, an outdoor patio welcomed guests with pastel food trucks, nail painting, pumpkin patches and activities all around. The concrete walls were covered with the familiar adorable white face and sayings about friendship.
Upon entering the convention center, the layout was unlike any one would expect. Wall to wall murals of Kitty’s face and sculptures of her inside tea cups.
When one thinks of a convention they think of a large room with vendors lining and zig zagging throughout, but the Hello Kitty convention will be nothing like that. The convention will be more like an extremely interactive gallery. The organization of the areas include Vintage Village, Friendship Village and a Hello Kitty Tattoo Shop.
There’s an area of vendors called the “Super Market” where popup shops from Dylan’s Candy Bar, Sephora and Beats by Dre, among others, show up with Hello Kitty themed items. Beats by Dre, the headphone and music giant, is debuting their special Hello Kitty solo headphones and headset. All the vendors at the event are corporate sponsors, there are no independent vendors.
Wall to wall the venue is covered in Sanrio items dating back to 1976. Tablemats, small toy collections, doll house items, clothing, including haute couture clothing from world class designers with Kitty designs. Among the vendors and activities in the venue, there’s a stage where previews of the upcoming Hello Kitty and Friends world tour will take place as well as meet and greets with Kitty herself.
The most sacred meet and greet for any Hello Kitty purist is having a hand drawn, personalized and autographed Kitty drawing by the Hello Kitty Designer herself, Yuko Yamaguchi. Though she’s technically the third designer of Hello Kitty, she’s been the main designer for most of Kitty’s public presence, having been the head designer since 1980.
The Hello Kitty Convention is sure to be a hit in Los Angeles. It’s currently sold out, but if you’re willing to wait in stand by or attempt to get general admittance tickets, it will be worth the wait. For more information go to: www.sanrio.com/hellokittycon
Hello Kitty Con 2014 is being held at The Museum of Contemporary Art, 250 S Grand Ave. Los Angeles, CA 90012 October 30 through November 2.