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 (11/26-12/2)
30 photos Launch gallery
1. Little Legend and Puddy 😍😍😍😍
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2. "You on point Phife?" "all the time,Tip". 💥 #bannedfromnormal
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3. Vegan! The Impossible burger at Crossroads
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4. Lawrence #BeforeandAfterEpisodes 1-4: 184lbs 13% body fatEpisode 8: 196lbs 8% body fat S/O @coachdaveboxing with the works outs and @kildareriordan with the nutrition
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5. Jus haaaanngin out
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6. Meanwhile back at home in Atlanta GA someone mad they not on the 🛳. 😳
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7. No limits... Photo cred: Chris Bridges @ludacris
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8. new new
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9. Apparently my 260lbs is too much for the actual vines in the Hawaiian jungles to hold me without breaking and me falling hundreds of feet. So for safety purposes, I'm forced to swing thru #Jumanjj on wires strong enough to hold 12 adult buffaloes and 1 adult Rock. #OnSet #Jumanji #IronicallyIEatBuffaloDailyForLunch #MoreManThanNatureKnowsWhatToDoWith
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10. hey ma! 🎎#wcw 💙
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11. Surprise visit to our factories!!! #GoodAmerican #USA
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13. Peachy Keen 🔥✨⚡️
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14. If this don't look thankful I don't know what does. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours. #UltraBlessed #24kMagic #SweetPotatoFly
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15. Late nights @nbcmarlon with the writers... we in here!!!
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16. There goes my baaaaaaaaabbbbyyyyy #QueenKingMagic!!! We're up to something! Ira BIG!!! Stay out our buisness -
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17. You want to win every game you play but when you come home to these faces... who cares. #ILoveYouGirls best part of my day, everyday!
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18. Steady,steady..... full size jenga.. "I got this one "???? Or do I ?
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19. Cornrows kind of day 😉@dontaysavoy2 you convinced me and I love. ❤️️
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20. #BrotherlyLove #tbt
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22. #basel #TeamLOVE @kingcombs
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23. Just introduced a special screening of @directher 's groundbreaking (must see) documentary @13thfilm with my brother @themichaelealy | @unitedblackout #blackoutblackfriday
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24. Me & Vanessa Williams giving #DuckLips #Pose on the set of #DaytimeDivas @vh1 - Coming Soon to a tv near you. Lol. - My make up done by @makeupsurgeon
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25. This picture just makes me wanna praise the Lord, you hear me!!!!!! Yes Lord brotha #TEDDYCAMPBELL What a #man !!! You are everything right on this picture husband ......... #gorgeous #stylish #classy #strong #masculine #king #sexy #debonair #gentlemenstyle And that #bible in your hand just seals the deal for me (probably cause i know that, that is what helped you become just as amazing as you look😘). While my heart and mind experiences the goodness of God at #church on Sundays, my eyes experiences the goodness of Teddy😍. Amen somebody🙌🏽. "Bless the Lord oh my soul and all that is within me bless his holy name" #myman #myhusband #goodman #blackman #dapperman #godlyman #goodfather #mybestfriend
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26. Yesterday was my mama's 53rd birthday!!!!! Got to celebrate with her all day. If this is what I have to look forward to I can't wait. Looking like a soft bucket a cocoa butter. Yaaaaaaaaaas! 😍😍😍 love you mommy!
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27. "Shout out to @PureAtlanta for getting the family right"....I'm loving this jogger. 😍😍
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28. This pic warms my heart ❤️ #myLogiebeans and aunt aunt umba @itowandabraxton 😘
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29. You will always be my baby😜. #HappyBirthdayReginae #mybaby18
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30. GC "Gods Child" Red on Red SweatSuit available now at www.MonicaApparel.com ... Take Your Crown wherever you go!! I'm pictured in a Medium... Go to the site now for other options ... cc: @trukernell
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