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Katre X Hello Kitty: A Marriage Between Filipino Craftsmanship and Japanese Creativity
On December 11, 2018, Kat Erro, founder and chief executive officer of the Katre line of leather bags, received an email message that would rock her world! The communique was from Sanrio Wave, the Asia Pacific subsidiary of Sanrio Co., Ltd.
Of course, everybody knows about Sanrio, the Japanese brand which launched tens of thousands of tweens and teenagers sighing in the eighties with their charming line of all things cute and cuddly! Hello Kitty, My Melody, Little Twin Stars, Kero Kero Keroppi… these were just some of the characters that Sanrio launched into pop culture legend.
The message from Sanrio asked whether the Katre brand was open to exploring a collaboration with them, and Kat was stupefied. She couldn’t believe that a global brand, and a beloved one at that, would ask to work with her. In the first place, she found the idea of the people at Sanrio knowing about the Katre brand absolutely amazing.
But Sanrio knew about Katre, and actually wanted to work them.
In a message, a representative from Sanrio Wave said, “Sanrio is always keen to support local brands and Katre is definitely one of the representatives. Katre is our first bag collaboration in the Philippines because we admire their dedication to leather and quality. The craftsmanship and passion made Katre become a sought-after leather goods brand and we hope our collaboration will bring excitement to both our fans.”
Well, Hello Kitty!
Working with Sanrio and the Hello Kitty was more than just a business deal for Kat; it was personal.
Growing up, she would often find herself at Gift Gate to buy pencils and knickknacks from money she saved up from her school allowance. After all, she has always been a big fan of Hello Kitty.
In college, she worked part-time at a fast food chain. When she got her first salary, she splurged it on a Hello Kitty messenger bag.
“Hello Kitty is an icon, a symbol of timelessness. She’s also kind of like a friend, someone you grew up with. When we started posting teasers about the collection, the reaction was instant, and the excitement transcended age and generations. Adults, millennials, and teens… they were all thrilled about the collaboration,” Kat said.
Suffice it to say that working with Sanrio proved to be a singular experience for Kat and Team Katre. It was a collaboration in every sense of the word. Team Katre was given the freedom to build the collection based on their design aesthetics and market preference.
Kat says, “They did not limit us nor did they force us to go all kawaii. When they did give suggestions, it was very considerate to Katre as a brand. We were able to keep our identity and learn from the process. Of course, they were very specific when it came to ribbon details, proper placement, and character colors.”
The Katre Team did not lack for inspiration, most specially since they were given access to the Sanrio archives of vintage artworks. In the end, they managed to marry Hello Kitty’s charming timelessness with Katre’s elegant craftsmanship by addressing the market need for classic versatility.
“It was difficult to trim down a collection to something that will actually work for our market especially with Hello Kitty where you can do so much!” Kat explains, “The five handbag designs came from the simple idea that there has to be something for everyone: small to big, work to weekend, casual to dressy. It must be able to relate to a minimalist dresser and to a flamboyant one.”
Coming up with the collection took about a year, and involved working with two graphic artists, going through months of sourcing and sampling, exchanging a flurry of email messages, and doing endless conference calls. Everything worked out fine in the end though, and Kat and her team are truly proud of their collection.
The Katre X Hello Kitty Limited Edition Collection includes five leather bags: the Camden Tourist Convertible (handbag-shoulder bag-backpack in one), the double zip Hanover Midi (travel and work companion), the Thames Camera Bag (best-selling medium bag), the all-leather Bumbag 2.0, and the all-new Piccadilly Pint.
The Katre X Hello Kitty Limited Edition Collection will be available exclusively at the Katre Glass House pop-up store at 3/F Greenbelt 5 and at shopkatre.com. /