From Hello Kitty to Hi Panda

Back in ‘my day’, Japan – OK, Tokyo – was the epicentre of all things creative, cool and youth culture-y. Off-radar designers, collectible trainers, ‘kawaii’ cartoon characters, they could all be found centred in the streets of Shibuya. But now? It’s all about China of course. Cue Hi Panda, a brand that encompasses fashion, art, ‘hip-pop’ and lifestyle.

The cartoon-graphic brand is the brainchild of Chinese artist, Jiji and is part-owned by one Antoine Arnault who also happens to be Louis Vuitton’s head of promotions. Working its way around the world, Hi Panda arrives at London’s Harvey Nichols this month. Starting with mens streetwear, the womenswear arrives in September and then in October the fourth floor finally gets its groove on with a mini pop-up exhibition of Hi Panda sculpture, paintings and silk screen prints.What’s appealing to me are the sculptures (I can’t get excited about the tees – seen one cartoon tee, seen ’em all). These are serious artworks – Jiji has recently been invited to participate in an exhibition at the Louis Vuitton Museum and earlier this year showed at Paris’ Palais de Tokyo. While the larger four-foot-high pieces may be out of my price range, all bases are cover and there will be smaller figurines on sale from £50. Be warned though, these sold out pretty sharpish when they went on sale at Colette.

Top: exclusive Hi Panda T-shirts for Harvey Nichols
Middle: Hi Panda sculpture
Bottom: Hi Panda figurine]