Photos: Ray Ally
On my recent trip to London I saw an amazing number of UK flag inspired designs. The country’s national flag, called the Union Jack has been applied in part, or abstractly to a wide range of products in the supermarkets and on the high street.
This year the Queen is celebrating the 60th Anniversary of her reign and the 2012 Olympics are being held in London this summer. So perhaps it’s not surprising that the iconic symbol of Britain has been hijacked for these occasions.
Wearing a Union Jack design on clothing is not something English people would normally do. In the 1970s wearing the flag had strong associations with far-right extremists and later the skinhead culture of the 1980s. More recently the flag is more commonly seen in London applied to tacky tourist gifts bought by overseas visitors as souvenirs of England.
However, now it appears the flag design is back in fashion, but this time with street style and more innovative designs. Wearing the flag has become linked with a new Cool Britannia, associated with the Olympic games and symbolizing everything that is great about Britain.
I saw it used on almost every kind of product from deckchairs to frozen chickens, so not always used in the best possibly taste. But it is as a fashion style that it seems to have the most appeal. Every high street fashion brand has some Union Jack clothing, and even Stella McCartney has used it on the British Olympic kit.
In the past no self respecting Londoner would be seen dead wearing a Union Jack. But with the Queens 60th Anniversary, the Olympic games in London and the upcoming Football European Cup have changed all that. As there is a new sense of pride and patriotism sweeping the nation.
I predict that this year will be known as the Year of the Union Jack. And this Londoner will be proudly wearing his Union Jack T-shirt, drinking tea from his Union Jack mug, while watching all the three big occasions on the TV.