In August 1960, Sanrio emerged as a silk company based in Tokyo, Japan, then grew into a gift shop. It wasn’t until 1974 that the company introduced Hello Kitty, perhaps their best-known character worldwide, as a mascot that appeared on several gift items, including coin purses. This month, after sixty years in business, Sanrio unveiled a line of collectible merchandise featuring thirteen of their beloved characters, including Hello Kitty, My Melody, and Little Twin Stars. In addition to honoring their mascots, the collection pays homage to the company’s Japanese roots, putting a fun twist on tradition and culture.
The line features stuffed animals of characters like My Melody and Keroppi wearing traditional Japanese kimonos, with the egg-themed character Gudetama even wearing a strip of bacon as a robe. Though silk kimono robes used to be for everyday wear, they are now reserved for more formal occasions, and some are passed down as family heirlooms. These stuffed animals pay tribute to both traditional Japanese apparel and Sanrio’s foundation as a silk gift company.
Several characters appear on traditional tabi socks, including Hello Kitty, who appears alongside bright cherry blossom flowers. Tabi socks are socks that separate someone’s big toe from the rest of their toes – they were designed to be worn with the similarly-divided tabi shoes, along with sandals reminiscent of flip-flops. Cherry blossoms, also known as Sakura, are pink floral trees that bloom in the spring. The trees are so popular that Japan even hosts various cherry blossom viewing festivals throughout the year.
The line also nods to iconic Japanese foods, such as sushi. Several t-shirts reimagine fan-favorite Sanrio characters as different dishes, including sushi and rice bowls. These designs also appear on folders and chopstick-inspired pens. Other t-shirts draw inspiration from notable locations in Japan, such as Mount Fuji and Tokyo, the country’s capital.
Much of the collection consists of bright, bold colors like red, which symbolizes power and strength in Japanese culture, but there are also pastel options that honor Sanrio’s affiliation with the “kawaii” subculture, including folding fans and stickers. This range allows Sanrio to highlight a number of their various characters, from the playful Cinnamoroll, who appears on several of the pastel items, to the mischievous Kuromi, who only appears on black and purple products.
You can shop the Sanrio anniversary collection on their website while supplies last.