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Last Updated: Friday, 28 December 2007, 13:18 GMT
Macho makeover for Hello Kitty
Hello Kitty
Hello Kitty has been popular in Japan for three decades
Hello Kitty, the cute, cuddly white feline adored by Japanese girls and young women, is going macho.

The cat, made by Japan's Sanrio, will soon adorn T-shirts, bags, watches and other products targeting young men.

"Young men these days grew up with character goods," said a spokesman. "That generation feels no embarrassment about wearing Hello Kitty."

The for-men products will go on sale in Japan next month, and will be sold soon in the US and other Asian nations.

Rugged look

The shape of Hello Kitty was slightly changed for a more rugged, cool look to appeal to men in their teens and early 20s, Sanrio said.

Hello Kitty
A raunchy Hello Kitty appeals to adults

For example, a picture of the cat on a 4,095 yen ($36, 18) black T-shirt has the words, "hello kitty", instead of the usual dots for the eyes and nose

The move comes as sales of Hello Kitty-related merchandise have been slipping.

To boost sales, Sanrio has also recently launched a slightly raunchy range where Hello Kitty cheekily displays her knickers.

The feline character decorates everything from humble erasers to diamond necklaces.

The planned products mark the first time Sanrio has developed Hello Kitty items especially for males, company spokesman Kazuo Tohmatsu told the Associated Press news agency.

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