Last spring, my eyes were struck by the blatant British appropriation of the American flag splashed across high-street spring collections by the likes of Primark and Topshop. As I wandered around the Topshop flagship store, Oxford Circus, I was wholly surprised and humored by the kitschy renditions of America painted on hotpants, jeans, tank tops, and sweaters. At once, I was comforted by its familiarity. The homeland was so close and so very palpable. My little sister, Jennifer, must have felt it too, for she lifted a pair of hotpants emblazoned with the stars and stripes and contemplated the noble colors and pattern before swiftly placing it back on the rail.
We understood that we could never wear such accoutrement outside of the UK, let alone in the States. We would be, well, typical Americans, bordering on fanatic patriots. We had to be careful of being walking logos for our nation, whereas in the UK, we could at least pretend to be hip Britons sporting the flag of the USA as we Americans are wont to go gaga over T-shirts printed with the Union Jack.
What is this UK obsession with the American flag and our own with theirs? This dual fascination with the "exotic" and national symbols of the other? We are no different from our friends; in fact, we have utilized their flag for a variety of souvenirs, knickknacks, and yes, clothes. Perhaps we aren't so very different after all. We altered their national anthem "God Save the Queen" and kept it as our own patriotic song, "My Country, 'Tis of Thee," didn't we?
See Primark and Topshop's exploitation (ha ha, I jest) of all things American.
|MOTO stars and stripes hotpants: Topshop|
|cream star cutout skinny leather belt: Topshop|
|white roll back American flag print tee: Topshop|
|USA print dungaree dress: Topshop|
|Primark SS11 (threw this in for fun!)|
|red Americana shorts and vest: Topshop|
|KARAT coral diamante star suede pumps: Topshop|
|multi stars and stripes print vest: Topshop|
|MOTO multi patched flag print skinny jeans: Topshop|