There’s something about the albino, mouth-less cat that brings all the girls to the yard, and grown-up ones too, no less.

While the queue at the Sanrio Fiesta 2011 was nowhere as crazy as the H&M one, it was still a force to be reckoned with. When the shutters were raised at 10am on September 29, nearly 100 die-hard Hello Kitty fans charged into the store at Takashimaya’s Talking Hall B1.

The largely female crowd was armed to the teeth with product flyers and large shopping bags, and some even with their domestic maids in tow. Most worked in teams, with each party in charge of grabbing items from particular sections, before converging at various corners of the store to go over their loot.

The Sanrio Fiesta 2011 is an annual fair by the Japanese toymaker, showcasing exclusive Sanrio products direct from Japan. While Sanrio is home to many other characters, all we caught were the odd glimpses of My Melody and Cinnamoroll.

The star of the show was undoubtedly 37-year-old Hello Kitty, and everyone made a beeline for anything with the cat’s face on it, leaving its lesser siblings in the lurch.

The hottest items at the Fiesta were Hello Kitty bags. Be they neon pink vinyl totes or the more stylish bamboo-handle Koubou bags, all the bags were snapped very quickly.

Spotted combing the shelves was Rona Teo, a Kitty die-hard in her early thirties. She came decked out in full Hello Kitty gear, such as a Hello Kitty top, bag, earrings and even shoes.

“It’s very cute. I’ve loved it since I was young, and I like pink, so that’s why I love Hello Kitty,” she gushed. She once shelled out $1,500 on a vintage Hello Kitty rotary telephone on eBay. “I never use it, I just display it … It’s really worth it.”

Rona’s tale of devotion to the cat is not uncommon. A quick poll of seven shoppers at the fiesta revealed that all of them fell in love with the character while growing up, and loved it mainly because it was “cute”.

 

Like many others at Sanrio Fiesta 2011, Susan Hu, 42, had taken leave from work just to be there. “This year’s Fiesta was disappointing actually. Last year they had more household items like pots and pans,” lamented the mother of three, who has attended the Fiesta for the past few years.

“Hello Kitty has been my favourite since I was young. Most of my things at home are Hello Kitty. I have three grown-up sons but they don’t share the interest.”

However, some men do get it after all. The rare few that were at the Sanrio Fiesta were accompanied by their female partners, but we spotted some lone males filling up their baskets with all things Kitty.

 

It’s quite easy to overdose on pink – the stuff’s everywhere. However, don’t be too quick to dismiss it as just another fluff-fest.

Hello Kitty has gone upmarket and expanded its product line to include sophisticated items under the Vivitix range. Vivitix, which makes its debut in Singapore at the festival, caters to the working woman. The emphasis is less on girlie baby pink and more on darker hues like black and fuchsia.

The brand is also big on collaborations, working with brands like Swarovski, Atmos, Poh Heng Jewellery and Porter to create an assortment of Kitty-imprinted items from bags to high-end jewellery.


Image: Atmos

We scoured the Sanrio Fiesta 2011 to bring you five Hello Kitty collectibles that aren’t the usual suspects.

FIVE MUST-HAVES FOR KITTY CONOISSEURS

  • Hello Kitty Pot Lid: If you have any orphaned woks or pots at home that have lost their lids, this makes for a perfect companion. It can double up as a Kitty shield too. 
  • Hello Kitty White Gold Diamond-studded Pendant (right): Get some bling on with this pendant that comes with a diamond-studded ribbon. Kitty bling doesn’t come cheap though. It is the most expensive item at the Fiesta, retailing at a cool $1,050.
  • Hello Kitty Omelet Maker: Start the day right by waking up, making an omelet, and having a yellow steaming Hello Kitty staring right back at you.
  • Hello Kitty Undies: Fact: Most of us must have worn cartoon-character underwear at one point or another in our lives, so why be shy? These cotton undies are not only cute but comfy as well. Just don’t let the boyfriend see them.
  • Hello Kitty Kyoko Koubou Series Bamboo-handle bag: Finally something that’s not mass-produced. These limited-edition bags are handmade by Kyoto artisans using 100 per cent Japanese cotton, and aren’t sold anywhere else in Singapore.

Sanrio Fiesta 2011 is now on at Talking Hall, B1, Takashimaya Department store and ends on October 11.