A tank top designed to look like a ripped, burned and tattered American flag is a hot seller this spring.
And the $1,515 price tag isn’t the only thing kicking up controversy.
The trashed tank, from French design house Balmain, is besieged with holes that look like cigarette burns and is held together at its open sides with safety pins. The item has been so popular that knockoff versions have been sported by celebs, including Kesha and Kate Bosworth, at the fashion-forward Coachella music festival.
Balmain is known for shock-inducing styles, including a simple ripped-up tee from last spring that flew off shelves despite its cost, a jaw-dropping $1,625.Slideshow: Ooh la odd! Crazy couture
The flag top sold out within minutes on e-commerce site Net-a-Porter, according to the New York Post. But outside the fashion world, folks are taking offense. The Post quoted retired Army soldier George Alatzas, who runs flag activism website "It's All About the Flag," who said, "Our flag has witnessed many sacrifices. It is the glue that holds our patriotism together. Shame on those who defile it in any way."
While some believe the trashed tank is a fashion (and patriotic) faux pas, there’s no law against wearing a flag print. The U.S. Flag Code, a federal law about the proper use of Old Glory, states that the flag should never be worn — but that’s only if the garment is made from an actual U.S. flag.
In the instance of the Balmain tank, flag experts chalk the kooky couture up to artistic expression.Slideshow: Wackiest Fashion Week styles
“There’s no breach of flag etiquette about wearing an article of clothing that happens to be red, white and blue, and that appears like a flag that might be tattered,” said Marty Callaghan, spokesman for the American Legion. The organization is lobbying for an amendment to the Constitution that would protect the flag from desecration.
“Some people think these items are in bad taste, but there’s nothing we can do or can’t do to urge the manufacturer to halt sales of these items,” Callaghan said. “We have no issue with these fashion statements.”
Flag fashion has been a celebrity favorite for decades, from Axl Rose’s starred-and-striped onstage shorts in the ’90s to Lady Gaga’s flag-kini in her “Telephone” video.Slideshow: Fashion gone Gaga
“In my opinion, anyone who has a negative political opinion about this tank is putting way too much thought into it,” said image director and fashion industry veteran Alexander Allen. “If someone doesn't like America, or the American flag, I truly don't believe they would wear any American paraphernalia.”
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