Digger talks to Graham Stuart Johnson who runs Union Jack
Wear. Here, not only is it possible to get just about every
conceivable item emblazoned with a Union Jack (yes, even
flags!) Graham also offers a number of other options for the
patriotic Welsh, Irish, Scots and English among us.
your ironing board needs to show where its allegiances lie, if
you want your curtains to make a patriotic statement, if your
toilet seat needs a display of national pride then Union Jack
Wear is the place to come...
Good morning Graham. How are you?
Good morning David. Busy
again, it's The Ryder Cup, you see.
Oh I see, so there's lots of patriotism going on?
It's a European team, of course. Do you sell a lot of Euro
We sell a lot of European bunting and so on, yes.
Especially when it's The Eurovision Song Contest. So it's
all good stuff.
Can you tell us your background and the background to
Union Jack Wear?
I've been in the IT business for over twenty years
Ah! Doing what sort of stuff?
Computer operating and implementation.
The same sort of background as me, Graham. I
was in charge of a team of programmers at the old
Lloyds international until I decided to work for
We had an ICL 2905.
goes back a bit, doesn't it?
It certainly does, the old tape servos and
removable disks and punched cards.
It was all good stuff - very Dr Who-ish.
That's what got me into computers in the first
place. I saw some operators carrying some
discs in the 70s and thought it looked very
sci-fi and exciting so decided I wanted to get
I was working for WH Smith at the time and The
Internet was in its infancy when I started. I think it was a cousin of mine in America who
wanted some Union Jack products, which isn't a
major thing in Keighley. Because I was in the
London area, I was able to find some items and
it started off as a little hobby and it's just
grown and grown really.
So what do you stock in the Union Jack line? -
it's a very wide range you've got there.
We started off just selling the main things
such as T-shirts and flags and hats and so on
and now we have seamstresses who make certain
items for ourselves, such as the plus fours
and the waistcoats and dressing gowns and
things like that.
What's the most unusual items you've got on
There's so many. One of the things is a hat
with a golf course and a ball on top with
some plus fours.
Who are your customers?
Everybody and anybody. Ex-pats buy them
from abroad and people who are going on
business overseas buy them. If they go to an
event, say, in America, then they want to
show that they're British.
Yes, and there is a bit of a cache and
kudos with being British in some places.
I suppose so. And because there are
events and national anniversaries always
happening, people buy because of
When I went on business to Japan, I took
some Fortnum and Mason's marmalade and
teas to my host and he was overwhelmed
by my simple gift. He couldn't do enough
for me during my stay and took me to restaurants
and places of interest - the
Japanese love British stuff and the
history. So what sort of feedback are
Well, people seem to like unusual items.
They like the things that you can't get anywhere
else, so that's what we try to aim more
What are your retro passions?
I like a lot of eighties music.
That's your era, is it?
Yes, is it yours?
I'm a child of the sixties but grew
up in the seventies. I love the
eighties electropop and The Jam, The
Police, Squeeze and so on.
I suppose when you think that we
used to listen to Pick Of The Pops
and now realise it was thirty years ago.
It really doesn't seem that long
We used to tape the top twenty and
try not to get the talking bits in
between, didn't we? There must
have been millions of us all doing
the same thing.
And the doors slamming in the
That's right, and your mum
shouting that your tea's ready?
(Both laugh) What are your plans
for the future of the business?
I'm hoping to carry on growing and
obviously we're gearing up for The
Olympics in 2012.
Yes, is The Commonwealth Games
having an impact on you?
We've had quite a few orders as
I suppose things like The World
Cup are more different because
it's not a Union Jack thing,
it's the four teams...
We sell a great deal of Saint
George stuff and Welsh Dragon
stuff and so on.
Do you get customers looking for Irish, Scottish, Welsh
and English items too?
Yes, they're from all over looking for British stuff and
stuff that reflects the individual countries of the UK.
The Union Jack is obviously made up of several country's
flags anyway. It's The Queen's Diamond Jubilee in 2012...
That's a good thing about your business. There's always
some anniversary or event that will prompt people to
shop with you. You couldn't ask for a better promotional
and marketing tool.
When we were just starting this business it was the time of the
I remember the Silver one in '77 when Virginia Wade won
Quite big events aren't they?
Yes, and there's been a lot of coverage of The Battle of
Britain anniversaries and other WWII anniversaries. That
must generate a lot of business for you. A lot of my
clients are in the forties community - I imagine they
are good customers of yours with the bunting and the
flags and so on?
The Forces Weekend organisations often come to us for
items. There's a big one up at Haworth, which is just up
the road from us. That's a big event.
Yes, you're very close to Haworth. I was surprised how
close it was to the big towns because I was expecting it
to be out in the middle of nowhere on the moors.
It's about four miles.
Well, Graham, thank you......
Thanks. You've got a good site there actually.
Oh, thanks for that.
You have some interesting and expensive items of
memorabilia for sale on
Yes, I am selling them on behalf of a dealer and he will
give me 10% for any sales. We have things like one
of Marilyn Monroe's bras and a comb and scissors
used to cut Neil Armstrong's hair. Are you interested?
I think they're amazing. So they're not yours?
No, I am just acting as an agent. It's a much better way to
invest your money in these strange times buying
memorabilia than investing in shares or a pension.
They can only go up in value.
You've got a nice little interesting job there, haven't
Yes, and I'd say you have too. We're both doing
something for ourselves that started as a passion or
interest and is now making us a living. It's great fun.
I couldn't work for someone else anymore, could you?
No, I don't think I could. I wouldn't like to go back to
a job where I thought "Oh dear, it's Monday
We're unemployable Graham! A good job that your business
is doing so well. Many thanks for that and best of luck
for the future. Keep busy.
Aprons, Baby Wear,
Badges/Pins, Bags, Balloons, Bandana/Zandana, Baseball Caps,
Bears/Toys/Gifts, Blanket, Braces, Brit Kits, Buckles,
Bunting, Car Flags, Cufflinks, Cushions, Curtains, Duvets,
Fabric and Ribbons, Face Masks, Fancy Dress, Flag Poles,
Flags, Gloves, Handkerchiefs, Hats, Inflatables, Jackets,
Jewellery, Keyrings, Kids Clothes, Kitchen/BBQ Wear, Labels,
Packing Tape, Stickers, Luggage Tags, Magic Towels, Magnets,
Mens Shirts and T- shirts, Money Box, Mousemats, Mugs, Party
Wear, Patriotic Pub Gifts, Poncho, Pyjamas and Nightwear,
Rubber Duck, Rugs, Scarves, Shower, Curtains, Ski Hats,
Skirts/Dresses, Socks, Stationery, Stockings, Suits,
Sunglasses, Sweatshirts, Swimwear, Table Flag, Tattoos, Tax
Disc Holders, Ties, Bow Ties - Formal, Ties, , Bow Ties -
Party, Toilet Seat, Towels, Trousers/Dungarees, Umbrellas,
Underwear, Waistcoats, Wallets and Purses, Watches and Clocks,
Wigs, Women's T- shirts, Wristbands and more!
Celebrating Britishness, and with the largest selection of
Union Jack products online, Union Jack Wear is Britain's
Favourite Union Jack Store.
Exclusive Designer Union Jack products available with new
Patriotic items arriving every month. Simply the Largest
selection of Union Jack clothing and Gifts available on the
web. Cool Britannia.
Union Jack Wear
Tel: 01535 607101
Fax: 01535 608028
Email : firstname.lastname@example.org