Is that some kind of new 'Britain in the European Union' design? No, it's the classic, instantly recognisable red, white and blue British flag. It has stood for colonialism, the Swinging Sixties and, more recently, the Britpop-led Cool Britannia era. It has also been incorporated into both the wacky and wearable creations of some of Britain's best-known fashion designers. Oh, you mean the Union Jack? Well, yes, that is what it is commonly called. The tag is said to have originated in the Church of England and comes from the phrase 'the Union of Jacob'. When? 1801, in its current form. What did it look like before that? It was created in 1606 and combined England's St George's Cross, a red vertical and horizontal cross, with Scotland's St Andrew's Cross, a white diagonal cross on a blue background. It was used on sea-going vessels only for more than a century, with St George's Cross still loosely representing Britain on land. Only in 1707 did the Union flag officially became Britain's national land flag, making no concession in its design to the fact that Wales was part of the union. In 1801, a red diagonal cross, representing St Patrick, was added to the flag to reflect the fact that Ireland was formally recognised as part of the United Kingdom. What was that you said about the flag's fashion associations? In the 1960s the emblem was used by a wide selection of clothing manufacturers, propelled by the mod era in music, when Union flags were emblazoned on khaki parka coats and Vespa and Lambretta scooters. In the late Seventies, punk rockers used the flag and Vivienne Westwood, the designer who was very much part of that youth movement, couldn't get enough of it in her safety-pin and bondage-strap creations. More recently, thanks partially to catwalk creations (below) and a mod revival sparked by Britpop in the Nineties but still lingering today, Paul Smith and Ben Sherman menswear labels have shifted plenty of units bearing the Union flag. I thought I heard whispers that black vertical and horizontal lines may be incorporated into the flag? It is being discussed. The BBC recently reported that they might be added as a subliminal reference to Britain's racial diversity. But don't expect a quick decision, look at how long Britain is taking to make the inevitable conversion to the euro!