Hello Kitty + Skateboards = Art
I don’t know how to skateboard, and I just purchased a skateboard.
Now, before you point fingers and say, “poseur”—feel free, though—know that it’s being mounted on my living-room wall as I type this.
Nine months ago, I visited Royal/T in Culver City (which, most of the year, is mainly a Japanese-inspired maid café, which is an art and café space where the servers are dressed in cosplay maid outfits, about which I have no comment) for their exclusive 35th-anniversary celebration of one of the most famous Japanese imports: “Three Apples” was an art show paying tribute to Hello Kitty. (“Three Apples” refers to the cartoon cat’s precise weight.)
And that’s where I spotted said skateboard deck. It was a collaboration between one of the most respected skateboard companies around, Girl, and that familiar, mouthless white cat I’d grown up with. I signed up for a pre-order and waited. And waited.
Girl Skateboards was formed in Torrance in 1993 by a few names you might recognize: Rick Howard, Mike Carroll, Spike Jonze. It’s no secret that famed film director/hipster Jonze (Being John Malkovich, Adaptation, Where the Wild Things Are) is a diehard skateboarder himself, having started out as both skate photographer and skate-film director.
And while there have been tons and tons of streetwear collaborations with Hello Kitty—most resulting in trashy merch suitable only for overweight teens, Invader Zim fans and Hot Topic—this one’s actually worth spreading the word about.
The 8-inch-wide decks ($64.99) are drawn in the style of “classic” Hello Kitty: the more oblong-headed look the cat sported in her earlier stages, when the color schemes stuck to primary colors and not hot pink and sparkles. She is surrounded by commonplace objects (in the Sanrio world, at least) such as lions, sailboats and bottles of milk, and it reads, “GIRL” and, “Mike Carroll.”
The top side is solid red, with Hello Kitty sitting on a skateboard holding an apple. Along with the decks, Girl released sets of collectible wheels ($31.99) in white (51mm), red (50mm) or blue (52mm). T-shirts, of course, are also available, in men’s sizes in royal blue, black and white ($20).
All the merch is still available for purchase at Japan LA in Los Angeles (648 N. Fuller Ave., Los Angeles, 323-934-5201), but I’d stick to shopping online at japanla.com. Finding parking at a store just off Melrose’s main drag? Good luck.
This column appeared in print as "Hello, Ollie."
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