On the Metro recently I got to thinking about flags as fashion statements. One thing particularly endemic to the U.S. is the American flag on everything. In my case, I found myself on a crowded Metro train full of tourists, all of them covered with tacky “I Love DC” shirts or, of course, U.S. flags.
I tried to think of any other country where one would see something like that. Canadians I’ve come across in traveling love to put the maple leaf on their backpacks and suitcases, (it’s as if they are trying desperately to say “I am NOT an American!”… and I can’t blame them) but somehow it doesn’t come across in quite the worshipful way it does when Americans do it. I think there’s also a parallel with Europeans and their national football/soccer shirts. But with us, I feel, it reaches patriotic overkill.
On the crowded metro train I found myself rolling my eyes at the tackiness. But then I realized I’m guilty of flags-as-fashion to a degree myself. It’s no secret I have a thing for Union Jacks. I think for a lot of non-British people it’s a fashion icon that transcends its literal symbolism… maybe our love of British icons has its roots in idolizing the “Swingin’ London” of years past? I have Union Jacks on rugs, belt buckles, shoes (thanks to Ben Sherman), shirts, mugs, etc. Thought I doubt it would be as fun or fashionable where I actually in the U.K.
What passes for an ironic fashion statement in one place has an entirely different meaning somewhere else. Just a musing…
"Adam, are you sure it's not a bit much? I mean, you're bathroom's lovely, but really..."