Home » history of design » Kawaii


Kawaii in Japan took off in the 1970’s when the cute brand “Hello Kitty started to develop by Sanrio Corp. The origin of Kawaii also comes from the fans of cute manga and anime characters that dress up in Victorian clothing or the Lolita style. Over the last ten years there was a radical growth in the Kawaii culture since the internet developed in such a “showcase” to the world and also because of the cute items more widely available in urban centers. This creates an opportunity for people to dress up but this can also cause conflict amongst people because of the competition on who has the best Kawaii item etc.

Kawaii is a Japanese meaning for something that is pretty or cute. This goes with a charming and loving personality. It’s purpose is so that one “can love” according to the Japanese. This term is especially used by anime and manga fans.

The influence of Kawaii can be seen all over today especially on television and in magazine advertisements. It perceives one’s mind to buy an item just because everybody has it and it is “cute”.
Fashion and accessory designers was influenced by Kawaii and they saw the opportunity to develop goods that everybody will buy just because it is cute and adorable. Most kawaii items are being bought just for the esthetic reason and not for a utilitarian purpose.

I walked into a small accessory store not too long ago and I saw a basket standing there with different scrunchies – the exact same ones that you are thinking about that you wore in primary school just because you mom put them in. They are developed into a Kawaii item and everybody just love them. Scrunchies are back in various colors and patterns and it takes me back down memory lane where I used to wear only the colors that my school allowed.

Not only scrunchies are developed into Kawaii items, there are many other objects that were once boring and old and now it is funky with ruffles, bows, sparkles, polka dots, floral prints, glitter and gold. Different nail art are very popular for girls and even young adults. Cellphone cover design took over the world and you can buy a cover in any color, pattern, style or shape and so I can go on telling you about almost every buyable item that turned into a Kawaii item.

To link back to the origin of Kawaii culture with the starting of Hello Kitty you can think back to the last time that you went into a toy store or an accessory store or even a clothing store. You most probably saw something with a hello kitty on it or even a hello kitty soft toy. Almost every girl has something hello kitty in her room or atleast somewhere in her life because it is a Kawaii item and everyone has it. Hello kitty was the popular Kawaii item back then and still remains as the item every girl must have.


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