You can spend months imagining what Hello Kitty Con is going to be like, but nothing can really prepare you for the things you’ll see. This weekend, the 4-day event—Sanrio’s first-ever official fan convention for its No. 1 character—took place in Los Angeles, occupying part of the Geffen Contemporary at MOCA, the Japan American Museum, and The Line Hotel in Koreatown.
Starting at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, fans flooded The Geffen to enjoy a carnival of merchandise, cartoony photo ops, performance art, exhibitions and costume contests. The adjacent Japan American Museum featured a large-scale exhibit of Hello Kitty-influenced art, which will remain open through spring, before embarking on a world tour. By Saturday night, the masses made their way to Hello Kitty’s birthday bash at The Line Hotel—where some attendees had already been staying in specially appointed rooms. (Read: stocked with even more Hello Kitty goodies. Like, a lot.)
Not only was the convention a dream for diehard collectors—everything from special edition Spam to artist lectures to (free) permanent tattoos were available—but the sold-out event also brought out impressively creative dressers in droves. We spent the weekend exploring the convention and meeting some of the character’s biggest fans. As for the whole “Hello Kitty is a girl, not a cat” thing? Everyone totally already knew that.