FROM the height of Beatlemania to this spring’s catwalk shows, the jaunty red, white and blue of the Union flag has rarely been out of fashion.
It has graced everything from hats to mini skirts and remains a favourite design for handbags, scarves and T-shirts.
But according to one fashion blogger, the febrile political atmosphere in Scotland makes the UK’s best known symbol an unwise fashion choice for visitors.
Jacopo Grazzi, the Italian writer behind the popular blog Travel Fashion Girl (TFG), claimed that wearing anything featuring a Union flag could result in being over-charged in local shops and receiving a less than hospitable welcome from some Scots.
In a post entitled What Not To Wear in Scotland, Grazzi acknowledged “you will not be punched or insulted”, for wearing Union flag clothes or accessories but added: “You will be charged more in local shops and taxis and you won’t be treated so well by some of the locals”.
Grazzi, a second year student of international fashion branding at Glasgow Caledonian University, said yesterday that he was basing his advice to international travellers on his own experiences in Scotland.
“I think the first time I noticed the actual, real, hostility was when I was wearing a Union Jack hat from Primark,” he said.
“The taxi driver had been looking at me in his mirror and giving me dirty looks. He overcharged me and then when I got out the taxi he started driving backwards when the door was still open.
“Then in shops I had people looking at me as if to say ‘what the hell?’ Though I would say there are some people who do not react like that. I think it will only get worse with the referendum coming up”.
Last night Dr Tessa Hartmann, a brand and fashion consultant and founder of the Scottish Fashion Awards, said she hoped Grazzi’s experience was not widespread. “It’s kind of depressing that a young student coming to Scotland to further his education feels strongly enough to write that sort of thing. We should be a little bit ashamed,” she said.
Holly Mitchell, fashion designer and owner of the Totty Rocks boutique in Edinburgh, said: “This is a really negative thing to say about Scotland which is going out to a global audience and presenting us in a bigoted and backward way. Personally I wouldn’t wear something with a flag on it.”
Politicians too said they did not recognise Grazzi’s depiction of Scottish reaction to the Union flag.
“This is an appalling misrepresentation of Scotland. Scotland is a very open place and what concerns me is that someone who doesn’t have the depth of experience of life in Scotland has put these superficial ideas out on the internet and given Scotland a bad reputation abroad,” said Alex Johnstone, Conservative MSP for North East Scotland.
Christina McKelvie, SNP MSP for Hamilton, Larkhall and Stonehouse, said she did not think Grazzi’s experiences were connected to this year’s independence referendum.
“I’m very saddened if anyone was badly treated because of what they were wearing, especially when the Union flag is a fashion statement right round the world,” she said.
Patrick Harvie, Green MSP suggested that Grazzi may have overreacted. “I’ve never heard of anything like this, never known it to be the case.”