LONDON — There was no mystery as to which team Varun Pemmaraju was supporting: His American flag was tied around his neck, the Stars and Stripes perched like a cape behind him. “I was going for the Superman, Captain America-look,” said the sunny 19-year-old computer science and chemical engineering student from San Jose, California, as he stood a stone’s throw from Olympic Stadium. “I thought America was a little under-represented.”
Patriotism and the Olympic games have long gone together, but gone are the days when one just riffle a flag. Now flags are dog-eared.
The fashion flags can be found at Olympic Park and around London as shift dresses and smocks, pants and shorts, hats and shoes, even dangly hoops and bracelets. There’s apparently no garment — nor nail polish — that can’t be fashioned into something analogous to a national banner.
Although the sponsorship police at the International Olympic Committee can prevent merchants from using the five Olympic rings, there’s no trademark police on flags.
Besides, capitalizing on a good fashion idea is not new-fangled. In recent years, “fast fashion” has misshapen the retail industry, as mainstream companies seize the hottest ideas from the catwalk, copy them as quickly as possible and move them onto the shop floors. Some manufacturers have gotten so fast they can fabricate wearable creations from factory to store in the same season in which they were created by top designers at Chanel, Ralph Lauren or Dior.
None of these flag fashions are going to give Burberry a run for their money — they are not prepared to last.