LONDON (AP) — There was no mystery as to which team Varun Pemmaraju was supporting: His American flag was tied around his neck, the Stars and Stripes floating like a cape behind him.
"I was going for the Superman, Captain America-look," said the beaming 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 waved a flag. Now flags are worn.
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 earrings and bracelets. There's apparently no garment — nor nail polish — that can't be fashioned into something akin to a national banner.
Although the sponsorship police at the International Olympic Committee can stop merchants from using the five Olympic rings, there's no trademark police on flags.
Besides, capitalizing on a good fashion idea is not new. In recent years, "fast fashion" has transformed 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 produce 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 made to last.
Jayne Ody got her raincoat, which was covered in Union Jacks, from Primark, a British store that specializes in cheap, cheerful fashion. And it was a bargain, at 8 pounds ($13).
Her friend Ann Wanklyn was wearing two Welsh flags — emblazoned with a dragon — that had been sewn together into a simple shift dress. But Wanklyn is not about to claim she's a fashion princess — Olympic Park is a sporty crowd.
"You won't see anyone here walking around in heels, I can tell you that," Wanklyn said.
Turns out those flags can be handy in this unpredictable British weather. Someone seems to have a concession of selling a plastic variety that doubles as a raincoat. The British flag, as one might expect, seems to be very popular, but so is the tricolor of France and the triangle-cornered ones of the Czech Republic.
And then there are the Dutch. Who needs a flag when your nation is basically a color — blinding orange? There are orange jackets, overalls, shoes but you almost never see the Dutch flag itself.
The orange also comes in the form of tiny hats — a bargain at 1 pound ($1.56) each — as worn by three Wagenaar sisters. Sabine Wagenaar, 24, simply laughed when asked about her fashion choice.
"It's a nice little hat," she said giggling. "It's girlie."
Then there are those just trying to buck their athletes up. Hugh Barton, 11, from Brisbane, Australia, was sad that the Aussie swimmers weren't at their best this year. He wore a flag around his neck and held one in his hand for maximum patriotism.
"Australia needs moral support," he said.
Before the games, American athletes were briefed on how to hold the flag should they be lucky enough to win. The U.S. Olympic Committee pointed out a picture of swimmer Missy Franklin displaying the flag properly after winning gold — right hand on stars, left hand on stripes.
Wearing the flag, well, that's for spectators. Still, people like Pemmaraju are wearing it well.
"It's a way of celebrating all the things that your country is about," the University of California student said. "I know America is not a perfect country … but it's got me where I am. I'm proud to be an American."
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This Week’s Celebrity Instagrams (10/15-10/21)
31 photos Launch gallery
1. Just a NY girl with BIG dreams....
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2. HAPPY CHILDREN=QUALITY PARENTING. We don't always see eye to eye on everything and that's normal. We're human beings. But we come together and do it right for what's important, the kids. We are not enemies, we are parents. And we are parents 1st. S/O to @monyettashaw for making Mason's bday memorable. S/O to @itscrystalsmith at home taking care of our other lil' Prince. ❤️❤️❤️ THIS IS WHAT CO-PARENTING LOOKS LIKE. #Blessed #Happy #AboveTheDrama #BiggerThanUs
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3. So happy to finally be able to share with you all that I’m the new Global Brand Ambassador for @Revlon! Follow my day on RevlonSnaps. Yay! Choose Love, Everybody! #RevlonXCiara #chooselove #ad
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4. Glam on point!!!@makeupbymotoko & @shaylinjoneshair #easybreezy @lifetimetv #beachesmovie #january2017 😘
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5. ✨True love ✨📸: @jessiemarrerophotography
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7. Today was not easy..but by the grace of God we all got through it. Words cannot express our gratitude for all of your Prayers, Positive thoughts and Support for us throughout the years. Tommy will be missed but most certainly never forgotten...And PLEASE don't ask "Where's Martin?.." he was there too...just not in this picture. Lol! God bless you all.. #LoveConquersAll #MartinShow
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9. West coast get ready for #RockyHorror. I will be live tweeting again. #letsdothetimewarpagain
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10. #THEKEYS pre order yours now ... Available everywhere #NOV22 #WeTheBest 🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑
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11. We about to ROCK at #KCABlackBall!! All for our life-changing effort to end 🌎 AIDS.
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12. Today's #SNAPJACK is brought to you by @yazzthegreatest 😂😂😂💋💋💋
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13. Damn girl you kinda old to be headed to the Go Go. You coming in at the age they leaving. LMAO
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14. Daddy daycare B-Boxin with @acewellstucker @shopraisingace
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15. #FBF Naviyd & URV "LIL MONSTERS"
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16. HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ONE OF THE BIGGEST LEGENDS IN OUR HIPHOP HISTORY! @snoopdogg CONTINUED BLESSING AND LOVE FAMILY!!!!! REAL OG!
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17. Thank you for a beautiful night VSU! Let's do it again! #HOMECOMING
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18. Had a great time this morning with my familia Erica, Griff & Truth!!
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19. Check out my interview on @essence facebook live. #inmyownwords #nycpromo #day2
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20. #She💋 #tbt #TheCoveAtTheAtlantis #DawgPawsAndAll
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21. Bae #retailtherapy
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22. Why me and @coryhardrict got the same pose... and notee... new mouth #naked
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23. When my husband is my personal 'hype-man'! it kills me every time! 💜😂 #WHATNOW #lostfiles📷
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24. Diggy Simmons
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25. Hand full of @jacquieaiche 💙💎💍 @esnail_la 💅🏾
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26. SuperSoulers! You can watch my interview with Carl Lentz live from my Facebook page, tomorrow at 11a ET| 8a PT. #SuperSoulSunday
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27. 💋 .. When the friendship is easy like Sunday morning. ☀️
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28. Sunday mornings are the best........... hugs and cuddles with my angel
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29. #huggar16 #hellohuggars
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30. My gym is everywhere!.. #RnBMoney #TheGeneral 📸: @twelvepastseven
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31. Nothing I would rather be doing... Rocko setting up our movie, Romelō working on a puzzle & Laiyah singing and sharing all she's learning at school... I'm so grateful for the joy they've brought into my life ... Praying for peace , joy & love in the home of EVERY family ♥️ #HeadScarfPJSunday LOL 😂
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