TOKYO – Hello Kitty is no sexist.
The cute cuddly white cat from Japan's Sanrio Co., usually seen on toys and jewelry for girls and young women, will soon don T-shirts, bags, watches and other products targeting young men, company spokesman Kazuo Tohmatsu said Friday.
"We think Hello Kitty is accepted by young men as a design statement in fashion," he said.
The feline for-men products will go on sale in Japan next month, and will be sold soon in the U.S. and other Asian nations, according to Sanrio.
The usual bubble-headed shape of Hello Kitty was slightly changed for a more rugged, cool look to appeal to men in their teens and early 20s.
For example, a picture of the cat on a $36 black T-shirt has the words, "hello kitty," instead of the usual dots for the eyes and nose.
Hello Kitty is one of mascot-obsessed Japan's biggest "character" hits, decorating everything from a humble eraser to a $48,000 diamond necklace.
The planned products mark the first time Sanrio is developing Hello Kitty items especially for males, Tohmatsu said.
But Sanrio had tried a "limited edition" collaboration in men's clothing with designers in Tokyo's chic Harajuku section earlier this year, and they proved popular, he said.
"Young men these days grew up with character goods," said Tohmatsu. "That generation feels no embarrassment about wearing Hello Kitty."