Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Flags and their abundance

While traveling this weekend in London, I noticed several different advertising strategies. One in particular caught my attention right off the back. The amount of flags posted, printed, and sketched around the city astonished me. While I did notice a large similarity in New York City and London, I realized an obvious difference in patriotism between the two. In the United States it seems flags pop up around the fourth of July and Veterans day. However, in London it seems flags were on almost every building, every ad, and several articles of fashion. If I counted the amount of American flags I've seen in New York City it would take one hand. If I try to recall the amount of flags I saw in a three day period this weekend, I find it impossible to keep track.

Not to mention it was also the one item that set apart tourists from locals. Tourist shirts in America rarely have the american flag on them. In the United States when you see a flag in a social area most assume there is a significant military event honored in that location. Here, the flag is a common site used for a variety of reasons.


  1. I noticed the abundance of flags as well! It was a little overwhelming how many British flags I encountered on my trip to London this weekend. I visited London about two years ago, and I don’t recall seeing so many flags. I think the sudden arousal of British patriotism may be due to the fact the UK is hosting the Olympics this summer. I was also surprised at how much they wore flag-printed clothing! In almost every shop window, there was a mannequin glamed out in the British flag. In the U.S., I feel like it’s a fashion faux pas to wear the American flag as your fabric of choice. But perhaps this is because stores know that tourists would eat it all up!

  2. I noticed the same thing with the amount of British flags I have seen on clothing while in Oxford. I think the British flag is and has been more of a fashion symbol throughout the time, whereas the American flag has not which could explain why we see it on clothes more. Also the fact that Oxford is a center for tourism so there are more people here touring that would be apt to buy a shirt with a British flag on it while they are visiting her as opposed to another city in England.

    I would have to agree with Jessica. I think the sudden rise in British patriotism has to do with the upcoming Olympics. Even when I was back in the states I noticed British flags popping up in stores. For example, Target had British flag decorative pieces in their homegoods section. At another store I saw a picture frame with a British flag on it. I would have never noticed the rise of British flags in my city back home if it wasn't for the fact that I was headed to England the following month.

    Great observation Hannah! This was something that had crossed my mind as well.

  3. I'm not sure why there would be so many flags displayed, but I did think it was interesting how many clothing pieces have flags as a fashion statement here. I work in a girls' clothing store at the Mall of Georgia, and before I left we started getting in a lot of British flag pieces. I agree that very few people in America wear the American flag any other time than the 4th of July, but the British flag items were selling like crazy! That being said, I saw the reverse phenomenon at a store here. When I went into a store here called River Island, there were a ton of pieces with the British flag, but there were even more with the American flag. I wonder if it's just fashionable right now to wear a flag of some sort, and I wonder if it's a sort of "worldly" fashion statement to wear something with another country's flag. I know girls who bought all the British flag stuff were doing so solely to be fashionable and appear worldly.

    As for the flags displayed around the city, I think with America the reason we don't display the flag as much might be because America is so diverse. I'm not saying England isn't diverse but given that they're united under a tradition of a queen, I think it gives them more of a national identity than Americans, since we pride ourselves on our "Melting Pot" characteristics. To display the British flag is to more or less characterize a group of people who all identify with the queen regardless of their own personal political views, whereas in America because we're so diverse cities are more likely to display city advertisements rather than a flag because for us while we do relate to our country, our cities explain our personalities better... Or at least that's my opinion!

  4. Within the pubs I have been in around here I have noticed there is always some kind of British flag reference. The first thing I think of when I see a British flag is Ginger Spice and Austin Powers. I know that sounds funny but it is so true. In the U.S. people rarely wear American flags around in day to day life. I notice the store Bonnie's (mostly because that is my name), but the whole store looked like a British clothing store. It is interesting to see that as in American the only time I can really see an opportunity to buy something with the American flag is at Old Navy close to the fourth of July.

    I definitely agree that the Olympics as inspired a new sense of patriotism in the United Kingdom, and that Oxford is a tourist city especially in the summer.