Don’t Give Up The Ship

We have a beautiful exhibit hanging in Gallery 543 at the Navy Yard right now that consists of flags by artist Emily Manalo Ruiz. The main portion of the exhibit is the “1000 Works Project”, which consists of 1000 small fabric flags, each of which are unique, sewn out of salvaged materials and inspired by old battle flags.  The exhibit also includes some of her larger flags, also made with reclaimed materials, that are text-based and printed with meaningful, personal phrases.

“Art, for me, is cathartic.  It serves as an outlet for releasing deep-seated pains, capturing fleeting memories, and for understanding and documenting my life experience.  My work conveys a sense of nostalgia, longing, and sometimes, hope. It helps me to make sense of things, to communicate, to find closure and contentment, and to attempt to make permanent what is impermanent.” – Emily Manalo Ruiz















Go see more of her work here!

A Creative Baby Shower

Our creative director is expecting a baby very soon, and today we had a surprise baby shower for her in the cruise ship terminal next to our building at the navy yard.  Our display team helped create an incredible setup full of all the things she loves – like American flags and denim – and even pitched a little teepee surrounded by a ring of comfy pillows. The mom-to-be was picked up in a golf cart draped with a flag :) She’s a special lady, very deserving of such a beautiful celebration!  Read More

An Interview with Artist Sara Rahbar

This month we’ve been exploring some of the decades that inspire the fashion we see and love today – Paris in the 1920s, America in the 1950s, Morocco in the 1970s – all leading up to today. The twentytens and the modern girl, who mixes together all of the little pieces that make her who she is – her various inspirations, quirks, ethnicities – turning them into something entirely unique to her. It couldn’t be more fitting, then, that the modern section of our catalog featured a flag by artist Sara Rahbar.

I posted some of her flags on the blog a little while back… i was fascinated by them, and love the idea of a flag being made up of many elements that represent different places, ideas and stories.  Read on for an interview with Sara and to learn more about the flags in her own words.


When did you first come up with the concept behind your Flag Series?

It was in 2005 when I was studying at central saint martins in London, it was for my final project… And I never thought that it would be a series, I thought that I would just make one.

What are some of the materials that you use to make your flags, and where do you find them?

I use anything that inspires me, anything that I am excited and passionate about, and anything that is “sew-able”… there are so many objects that I find that I love and want to use, but they are too large or too heavy for sewing, it has gotten to the point that the objects have completely taken over.  I think that’s why I’m starting to do sculpture now.

As for where I find my materials, well just about anywhere that I can, and I mean ANYWHERE.  I go to the most bizarre places to find things… from bazaars in Tehran, to flea markets in Pennsylvania, from Vietnam vets to little old ladies on the street… I see a million things and I pick two, editing is very important.

I am just as passionate about the objects that I find, as I am about making the work and the final outcome. Gathering these items is such an important part of my process.

What is the meaning behind the particular flag used in our catalog shoot?

There is never any one particular meaning, these pieces are like pages in a book, they are like pieces in huge puzzle.

This work is very personal for me and it’s a direct reflection of my life. In the end I am just a human being talking about my life to other human beings, the work is just an outcome of the way that I view the world and others around me.

It’s about falling, standing and attempting to survive it all. In the end we are all in exile, we are all just visiting and we all come to this earth alone and we leave alone. But while we are here we try so desperately to belong to something, to someone and to somewhere.

Art often inspires fashion.  Does fashion ever inspire your art?

Yes, sure it can, anything can inspire me, anything can spark something, trigger something. The most random things can inspire me; there really is no rhyme or reason to it, it’s just instinctual.

What people have had the most influence on you and your art?

Wow this is a very difficult question for me, mainly because a million different things inspire me every minute of the day, and I have a really bad memory and cant keep track of it all. My mind is a very overwhelming place to be sometimes… that’s why I jot things down a lot, to get them out of my head so that I can make room for new things to enter.

But there really are an endless amount of people that inspire me, from film makers, to artists, to writers, to my mother and brother… the list would really go on, and on, and on…

What does Free mean to you?

Being free is just a state of mind.

If you were to create a flag inspired by Free People, what would it look like?

I couldn’t tell you that in an interview, it all comes to me very instinctually when I’m making the work. I could only show it to you when it’s done. It’s an unexplainable moment, flickers of colors and shapes, I have learned throughout the years to trust my instincts, and let them guide me.

Personally I feel that it loses something when I talk about it, I believe it all happens in the making of the work.  I could try to make a piece about Sylvia Plath’s poems, but what would be the point…her words are powerful enough on their own. I think good work, really good work, moves you beyond words.

So inspiring. I love what she said about having to write things down to make more room in her head – I feel that way all the time. To see more of Sara’s amazing work, visit her website.


i’ve never really been one for clothing with the american flag on it…but i would totally love to do this with my shorts and if they came out looking half as good as valerie’s from bleach black i would rock them all the time!

what you need:

a pair of denim shorts

paint pens- she recommends two white and two red

x-acto knife, pencil and ruler

one piece of hard posterboard for stencil (she used the hangtag from the shorts)


and here are her instructions:

begin by practicing with your white paint pen, on the inside of your shorts, so you can get used to how the pen works.  once you are ready, prepare your stencil for your shorts.  my star is 1.25″ at the widest point.  cut out star with x-acto knife, and place on shorts.  use stencil to draw the outline of your shorts.  remove stencil, and fill in star with paint pen.  place next star approx 2″ away from next star.  if you end at a seam, draw a small part of the next star, to continue the pattern repeat.  once you are ready with your stripes, begin on the far left seam, using the seam as a ruler.  my red stripes are 1/2″ wide, and approx 3/4″ apart.  continue stripes up to waistband, and on coin pocket, but not on waistband.

sweet! you’re set for the 4th of july, too.