Around the world, blue and yellow banners are flying in solidarity with Ukraine. As the Russian invasion enters its third week, flag makers are scrambling to fulfill orders for Ukraine’s national symbol.
“We have a sewing room upstairs above our retail store and we sew Ukrainian flags in-house to try to keep up with demand,” says Dave Anchel, CEO of Elmer’s Flag and Banner, a salesman of flags based in Oregon who started limiting one. flag per customer. Anchel tells Quartz that they’ve also sold out all of their stock of Ukrainian-branded loot like decals, coffee mugs, patches, and pins. Before the conflict, his company sold an average of two Ukrainian flags a year.
On Amazon, the Ukrainian flags of Chinese sellers are shipped several days late.
Charles Ashburner, vexillographer and owner of MrFlag.com, a family business in Wales, is also reporting an increase in orders for the Ukrainian banner. âSo it would be true to say sales are good if that could be used to describe the situation the world is in at the hands of Putin,â he told Quartz. MrFlag.com has also started producing protest flags with anti-war messages overlaid on Ukraine’s yellow and light blue.
Sellers love Flagmaker & Print in East Flanders, Belgium who did not stock the Ukrainian flag rush to produce them. Vincent De Nil, founder of Flagmaker, says orders for Ukraine’s symbol have “skyrocketed” over the past few days.
Similarly, a deluge of messages flooded flags for gooda flagship company in Indiana with over 130,000 subscribers on TikTok. Michael Green, who founded Flags for Good with his wife Cassie, says they have sold their initial stock of 400 Ukrainian flags and have more than 600 orders to fill. They have already donated a quarter of their expected profits to World Central Cuisineone of many humanitarian aid organizations assisting Ukrainian refugees.
Where are the flags made
Flags are priced according to size, quality and provenance. Hand-stitched banners can cost hundreds of dollars and are usually reserved for commemorative purposes. The most common variety used at gatherings and homes is commercially printed in China, which locks budget flags.
Chinese factories are able to produce flags economically due to the high volume and lower cost of labor and materials, Ashburner says. Those made outside of China boast quality, eco-friendly inks and textiles, but they can’t compete on price. Flags made in the United States are about three times more expensive than those made in China; Chinese suppliers to former US President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign were able to lower flag prices to $1 eachreported Reuters.
“That price level is still unattainable here in the United States,” says Green, who studies economical and environmentally friendly methods of flag production. Activists “might bring their flag to a protest or parade where it might be destroyed or ruined, so I’m going to find a way to do that,” he says.
The conundrum of sourcing Ukrainian flags from a country that is a longtime ally of Vladimir Putin’s government is not lost on sellers sensitive to the geopolitics of the Russia-Ukraine crisis.
Ashburner says they have made it a point to distinguish imported flags from those they produce in-house. “So far no one has referred to China’s friendship with Putin when choosing a flag with us,” he said. “Truly, if people started to stop wanting flags made in China for this reason, that would probably be a good thing for us.”