NEW YORK — Hello Kitty has more friends for fall.
Parent company Sanrio has inked a number of new collaborations for fall using its Hello Kitty trademark, which is now in its 38th year. The brand transformed the penthouse suite of the 6 Columbus hotel here to showcase its product offerings, ranging from golf clubs to lingerie to hand soap, all emblazoned with Hello Kitty insignia in its myriad forms.
“In an effort to keep giving our customer something fresh and new and different, we started looking to collaborations in order to give her the Hello Kitty that she loves, but to also pair it with another cool brand like Sephora or Vans,” said Jill Koch, vice president of brand management and marketing at Sanrio. “And the response has been amazing. That’s really been our target for collaborations.”
New partnerships for fall include a women’s sportswear line with Vans (as well as footwear, which is back for a second season), Dial soap products, Moxi roller skates, Torti wines, Up With Paper stationery and a line of Hanky Panky intimates. The brand even collaborated on a line of T-shirts with rock band KISS, to be sold at Hot Topic.
“We like to continue to surprise our fans,” said Koch. “We might do something really quirky — like we did with KISS. We’re always exploring what’s out there and we’re on blogs, always looking for the next great thing; it’s an ongoing brainstorm. Being such a large brand, we don’t only go after other large brands … We also look for underground brands, like we did with Johnny Cupcakes and Friends With You. Brands that the typical mainstream customer might not be aware of.”
Hello Kitty also continues to evolve its existing partnerships, offering updated collections in various categories; there are redesigned sewing machines by Janome, new watches with Nooka, bags and back-to-school accessories with Loungefly and bicycles with Nirve. Kitchen gear aimed at college students includes rice cookers, miniature Crock-Pots, cotton candy makers, microwaves and cupcake trays (most executed in the color pink). All products continue to sell at a variety of distribution points, including independent, specialty and upscale retailers like Henri Bendel and Saks Fifth Avenue, as well as at mass retailers Best Buy, Target, Toys ‘R’ Us, Urban Outfitters, Amazon.com and Overstock.com.
“Over the last five years or so, we’ve noticed that items that you would typically think would be for a younger customer, like a soap dispenser or a couch cushion, were being heavily purchased by 18-year-olds moving into dorms or 20-somethings getting their first apartment,” said Koch.
“We really started reaching out to that older customer more and more. We have such a huge fan base that wants to continue having Hello Kitty in her life as she turns into an adult.”