Thursday, November 1, 2007

Hello Kitty for kids only, please

As global commerce becomes more competitive, and brand loyalty demands an astute consumer who won't flinch at the latest products but buy at their every whim, it is without fanfare that I bring to you a collaboration between Sanrio and Rebecca Minkoff for a line of luxury leather bags and accessories.

Let me say this. I love Hello Kitty. Actually, my first love was for My Melody, but I slowly gravitated to the flagship star in my teens, when Angel Hello Kitty was created. I didn't love HK's original red overalls, but put her in a lacey sky blue gown, and I was sold. (An ex's friend's gf happily referred to her as Dead Kitty, but I'm sure that the Sanrio execs didn't care what you called her, as long as the $$ came rolling in.) I bought tons of those bean bag kitties, dressed in all kinds of different outfits. It got so out of hand, especially when friends started buying them for me for my birthday and holidays, that I told them the madness must stop. Then, you know, I grew up. I stopped buying Hello Kitty. The dream fantasy was no longer relevant, and the cast of characters who sat so vigilantly in my room were packed and put away. But Sanrio, the aggressive force they are, saw all these HK enthusiasts fade away from their realm. So in comes products aimed towards adults. And this is where I REALLY think they have their strategy all wrong.

I was slightly apalled when Kimora Lee Simmons came out with a line of Helly Kitty diamond jewelry. In my mind, it was an unnecessary brand extension that reaches out to the super rich, which seemed to defy what HK was all about: a cute, universal brand designed for the masses, but due to their unique merchandising plan to release new designs every month, the owner was always unique because there were so many choices. A grown woman wearing a diamond Hello Kitty pendant teetered on the tacky, as if to say that this child-woman isn't able to let go of her youth even as her income level has risen. What message is being sent? Confidence, chastity, or victim of the brand?

At least, with the KLS jewelry, they were passably pretty. I am non-plussed by the total lack of design and effort that went into these bags. They are functional, surely, but NOT stylish! Where is the Hello Kitty anthem in these bags? If I wanted a black leather bag, there are SO many QUALITY bags to choose from in the world. Why would I fork out $650 bucks for a boring black bag that is lined with the most uninspired Hello Kitty pattern ever? What genius sat around and decided that this is quality branding? Very, very disappointing.

Anyhow, maybe if you REALLY love HK, you will buy this, but you can't even pay me to carry this bag. They are just hideously, hideously boring. You're better off carrying a Rebecca Minkoff original.