Ah, the Union Jack. The flag that's represented the United Kingdom since 1801. Whilst it's been flown atop castles and waved at sporting events, it's also become a popular fashion statement over the years.

In the early days of British rock, the Union Jack was a popular motif. Bands like The Who, The Rolling Stones, and later Oasis all used the flag in their merchandise, helping to cement it as a symbol of British cool.

And of course there was fashion icon and provocateur, Vivienne Westwood. Westwood, who's been known to stir up controversy with her designs, first incorporated the Union Jack into her clothing in the 1970s. Her punk-inspired designs featuring the flag were seen as a rebellious statement against the establishment and helped to establish her as one of Britain's most daring designers.

British punk bands like The Sex Pistols and The Clash also incorporated the flag into their merchandise and album covers, using it as an ironic symbol of their anti-establishment message.

But in the 2nd half of the 20th century, the Union Jack was unfortunately flown by fascist organisations called National Front and the Flag Group, and this association made the flag decidedly uncool. A similar thing has since happened in the United States with the Stars & Stripes.

In Britain, a singer rose to the occasion in a nationally televised appearance. It was 'kind of a big deal' at the time, and helped restore the Union Jack as symbol of cool owned by everyone.

At the 1997 BRIT awards, Ginger Spice of The Spice Girls wore a Union Jack dress that sent shock waves through the country. The dress, designed by Italian designer Roberto Cavalli, became an instant sensation, with copies popping up in stores across the United Kingdom.

Full disclosure: At Jolly & Goode, we sell a Union Jack Fitted Dress, Ginger Spice Style that's very similar, as well as a version that has the Union Jack on the back of the dress

Here's a video where Geri Halliwell (Ginger Spice) tells the story about how the dress came to be and how big the reaction was. She has since worn variations of the Union Jack dress which reflect different stages of womanhood. Each variation is its own entry in the history of Union Jack fashion. 

At the time, the dress was also seen as a statement of Girl Power and helped to cement The Spice Girls as the ultimate British pop group of the 90s. There's no denying its impact on fashion and pop culture.

That same year saw the release of the first Austin Powers film, which further helped restore the Union Jack to its former glory as a symbol of Cool Britannia. 

Since then, the Union Jack has continued to be a popular motif in fashion, appearing on everything from t-shirts and jackets to shoes and accessories. And whilst some may see it as a bit kitschy, there's no denying its enduring appeal and its place in British fashion history.

In recent years, Brexiteers wrapped themselves in the Union Jack during their campaign for Brexit, and their success in getting Britain to leave the EU has once again shifted the meaning of the Union Jack as a symbol.

But Geri Halliwell and Vivienne Westwood and other British icons left us with an important lesson. If we want a symbol to mean something, we have to be the ones to imbue it with that meaning.

The Union Jack was meant to be a symbol of unity—thus the word Union in the name. Still, who you are and what you represent whilst wearing your Union Jack contributes to the ever-evolving meaning of this symbol. 

With that in mind, we invite you to explore our fantastic (and expanding) collection of Union Jack clothes and gifts, which even includes a fantastic bikini for your next holiday at one of Britain's many fabulous beaches. Who knows, maybe you'll see Geri Halliwell strolling along the sand.    

Jolly & Goode