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Can Union Jack clothes ever be cool?

Head to head: the red, white and blue was unavoidable this Jubilee weekend. But with a history spanning Geri Halliwell and the far-right, can the Union Jack make a Cool Britannia return?

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For those less inclined to celebrate the Jubilee over the weekend (but drinking senselessly, anyway), walking through London was like a blinding house of horrors, narrowly avoiding the mirage of red, white and blue. Flags, bunting, party hats, even teeny-tiny dog clothes were plastered with the Union Jack in celebration of Lizzie’s 70 years on the throne.

It was all a little sickening, as street parties, parades, bland cucumber sandwiches and zoomed-in shots of Royals were thrust into the eyes, throats and every other orifice for the entirety of the weekend. Jubilating over a Jubilee for an institution so out of touch with The Real World didn’t feel right. Good on you making it past the national retirement age, Liz – but as Stacey Solomon quite rightly put it, in a recently resurfaced hot take on Loose Women: I would work hard if the country paid for me to have like 12 houses and work really hard.”

With that said, Sunday’s closing parade saw several double decker buses marking each decade for which the Queen had ruled. One such bus was the 1990s, where the hell-raising faces of the Cool Britannia years gathered on the top deck and waved at passers-by: Naomi Campbell, Sam McKnight, Patsy Kensit and, tying it together, perhaps the most 90s of all 90s faces, Kate Moss, wearing an archive John Galliano blazer slapped with the Union Jack flag, from the designer’s SS93 collection.

The Union Jack’s context is volatile. Its history spans Tim Nice-but-Dim toffs, The Who, 70s punks piercing safety pins through it, Geri Halliwell and Cool Britannia’s flag-pole moment, to sinister connotations of the far-right. But, recently, its status has sort of done a U‑turn, finding its way onto modern-day pop culture icons like Stormzy who wore a Union Jack bullet proof vest for his Glastonbury headline slot in 2019, Dua Lipas Vivienne Westwood take at last year’s Brit Awards and designer duo Stefan Cooke’s Union Jack jumper in their SS22 collection.

Over on Depop, the online shopping mecca for Gen‑Z, a quick search of Union Jack” brings up countless early-’00s sweaters, Dr Martens boots and DIY punkified jeans. Where trends are so deeply ingrained in 90s and 00s styles, perhaps the Union Jack is just another stylistic salute to the hedonistic decade none of them even remember.

Patriotism is often seen as an ugly word. But there’s nothing wrong with being patriotic: the UK birthed grime, Glastonbury, Jack Grealish and Tikka Masala – that’s the sort of patriotism we’re on board with, and one that the Union Jack could perhaps represent. But take it slow and steady, wear it which a healthy dose of irony and leave the bloody flags at home.

TJ Sidhu, Junior Editor

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Is there a more glaring red flag than someone wearing a full UK flag get-up? We’ve seen them in droves this bank holiday weekend, most likely at a street party near you: the garish blazers, wonky ties and plastic bowler hats. It’s giving Brexit Britain. Tear it all down, along with the rain-soaked bunting, we say.

OK, so there are a few people I’ll give a pass to don the red, white and blue stripes. Stormzy on stage at Glastonbury in a bullet-proof vest. Geri Halliwell and her iconic micro-dress. This person enjoying a night at GutterRing. I’ll also permit anyone who wants to accessorise their dog with a little Union Jack bandana to do so.

But recent Platty Joobs fits have been, quite frankly, a mess: Amanda Holden in a ruffled dress that even the Express called cringe” and looks like the time you tried out tie-dye as a kid. Sam Ryder in a sequined denim jumpsuit at the Jubilee concert. Farage in horrifying UJ brogues.

The Queen won’t see you. And she’s not gonna shag you, mate.

Felicity Martin, Deputy Editor

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VERDICT

After this weekend’s antics, we’re frankly Union Jacked out. It’s a no from us.


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