Hello Kitty is a fictional character created by Japanese company Sanrio back in 1974. The character is British as at the time of her creation, Britain was seen as trendy in Japan. It is thought the inspiration for the characters name came from Lewis Carroll’s Alice Through the Looking glass as Alice is seen playing with a cat she calls Kitty in the early scenes. The character was initially aimed at pre-adolescent females but is now popular with adults and children alike. No one could have predicted the success of Hello Kitty; by 2014 when Hello Kitty turned 40, it was estimated to be worth $7 billion a year. Around the world there are themed cafe’s, theme parks, an aeroplane and even a maternity hospital dedicated to the character.
I was never particularly a fan but after visiting Japan, I too became inspired by the cute little white cat and so was really excited when I heard that the first European Hello Kitty Cafe was coming to London for Summer 2016 as a pop up at Cutter & Squidge in Soho.
For my visit to the cafe I wore a black pleated skirt from Asos with a plain white t-shirt, white frilly ankle socks from Asos and pink mary jane shoes with a glitter heal by Miss KG. I accessorized with matching pink handbag from Asos and a Hello Kitty necklace.
The whole decoration of the cafe as well as the food was so Instagram worthy. Stairs decorated with the characters iconic ribbon led down to a garden inspired cafe.
We were welcomed with Mimmy’s Pink Lemonade.
A tiered bamboo steamer was brought out with five layers of beautifully crafted Hello Kitty treats. The first layer was sandwiches and even a couple of those had been cut out with a Hello Kitty cutter with the bow detail being highlighted.
The next layer was savoury cheese scones served with red pepper relish and cream cheese and a cheese cracker with Hello Kitty stamped on it.
It was then time for my favourite, the sweet treats. The first layer of these contained amongst other things strawberry milkshake biskie and Kitty’s chocolate mud pie.
This was followed by a layer containing Mimmy’s very jelly kiss, strawberries and Mimmy’s pink lemonade marshmallow.
The final layer had Mamma’s apple pie mousse and a cake truffle.
White’s Ice Kream finished off the tea.
It was slightly higher priced than many afternoon teas, even in London, coming in at £40 each; however I have never felt so full after a tea – it was definitely great value for money. Before we left I couldn’t resist snapping up some of the merchandise, although don’t think I’ll be joining the obsessive collectors anytime soon! Natasha Goldsworth who is 29 was reported in The Daily Mail as having spent over £50000 on her collection!
So why as adults are we captivated by Hello Kitty along with many other childhood characters, including Disney, Winnie the Pooh and Harry Potter to name but a few?
If you need further proof of the popularity of children’s culture with adults, just look at another Japanese creation, Pokemon Go which launched this summer and saw adults risking their lives playing the interactive game whilst driving!
A 2012 survey showed that 55% of readers of young adolescent books were in fact adults. Harry Potter is even published with a cover for children and an adult version.
The line between childhood and adulthood has become blurred in recent years. Children are no longer as innocent as they once were with the media exposing them to an adult world and the majority of children now have their own mobile phones. By the same token though independence is coming much later to most with the price of housing, along with many studying much longer meaning that many children stay at home with their parents well into their twenties.
The rise in computer games in the late 90’s saw adults as well as children enjoying gaming and led to it being more acceptable for adults to regress back to childhood.
The Independent suggested adults love of childhood things is a response to their ‘disappointment with modern life.’ Perhaps it gives adults a different way to express their individuality as well as giving them a license to play. It gives adults a chance to revert to a time of no responsibilities.
There is no doubt that nostalgia plays a large part in our love of childhood characters and stories. Perhaps as a child there was not so much merchandise available and also perhaps we didn’t have the funds to indulge in it all, but as adults we do and as such we enjoy creating vast collections.
Alice in Wonderland turned 150 last year and this year saw the release of a new version of Alice Through the Looking glass staring Johnny Depp. This has certainly led to an explosion of merchandise. I absolutely love this Urban Decay eyeshadow palette called Alice Through the Looking Glass.
There is an argument that as an adult you get something different from childhood stories; certainly Alice in Wonderland and Roald Dahl’s classics had a darker side and look at cartoons like The Simpsons – they can definitely be watched on two levels.
Whatever the sociological or psychological reasons behind adults shameless love of childhood things – it is clear that the line from the Bible verse ‘when I became a man, I put away childish things’ is no longer relevant in today’s society. We all have an inner child so why not enjoy embracing it?!