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Stitching up a fashion craze: ‘Bermuda Est.’ line of sweatshirts, tees passes popularity test with Flying Colours

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It was a fad kicked off by rapper Jelani Simmons, who wore one in a video that became a YouTube hit, but now has resulted in the line of sweatshirts becoming a ‘must-have’ item among Bermudians.

‘Bermuda Est. 1609 Atlantic Outpost’ sweatshirts have been flying off shelves in their hundreds at Flying Colours on Queen Street since before Christmas.

And now, Islanders are beginning to snap up the new summer line of brightly coloured ‘Bermuda Est. 1609 Atlantic Outpost’ T-shirts.

The words ‘Bermuda Est. 1609 Atlantic Outpost’ — having become more than a legend on the front of a sweat shirt.

Flying Colours, with its landmark flags on the exterior and famous gnome, has always had the right business plan for the visitor market, who love their large selection of T-shirts, surfer-style accessories and tropical gift items.

But the ‘Bermuda Est.’ sweat shirt phenomenon has been a local trend, and it was completely unexpected that it would become so popular, the store says.

“I wish we could pride ourselves with creating it,” said Flying Colours owner Jay Riihiluoma.

“The company that makes them had it as a logo stamp — it exists in many tourists locations: San Francisco, Los Angeles. We just happened to be in the right place at the right time,” he said.

With summer almost here, Flying Colours have extended the ‘Bermuda Est. 1609 Atlantic Outpost’ logo line to include T-shirts, which have just arrived and are now on sale.

Six months after the initial trend took off, Mr Riihiluoma is still surprised at the phenomenon.

He says he ‘no idea’ how many sweat shirts the shop has sold, but admits it has been difficult to keep them in stock as they have moved so fast, and as a result they have had them flown in as an emergency measure in order to keep the shelves stocked.

“We have definitely flown in additional shipments to help keep up with demand,” he said.

“One of the interesting things is that for many people, one is not enough. People want them in a variety of colours. We have just added the Rastafarian colours of green, yellow and red,” explaining it is the logo’s wording that is now in the Rastafarian spectrum. “They’ve just been in for a week, and they are definitely taking off.”

“We originally brought them in as a typical souvenir/tourist item, and they just really took off.

“The trend was in full swing by Christmas. We couldn’t keep them on the shelves. While that was what got the ball rolling, it has actually crossed a lot of boundaries. It’s not just young children who are buying them, but everybody has been wearing them.”

While the store owner says he does not have any sale numbers, he would say: “It’s been a lot. We have a photograph of a boy in India wearing one, and three generations of a family wearing them standing on a beach in England.”

As a result of their success with the ‘Bermuda Est. 1609 Atlantic Outpost’ line, Flying Colours have made donations to Raleigh International and the Bermuda Sloop Foundation, both of which provide opportunities for youngsters to develop a larger outlook, either aboard the

Spirit of Bermuda or to undertake projects throughout the world.

“It’s important for a small island to give children the opportunity to broaden their horizons,” he said.

The sweatshirts sell for $27.95 to $32.95, while the new tees start are $9.95 or $10.95.

Cole Durham, Che Durham, Jermae Smatt and Jawonday Smith in the Bermuda sweatshirts from Riihilouma's Flying Colours. (Photo by Mark Tatem)
Cole Durham, Che Durham, Jermae Smatt and Jawonday Smith in the Bermuda sweatshirts from Riihilouma's Flying Colours with Jay Riihilouma. (Photo by Mark Tatem)

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Published May 09, 2013 at 9:00 am (Updated May 08, 2013 at 6:33 pm)

Stitching up a fashion craze: ‘Bermuda Est.’ line of sweatshirts, tees passes popularity test with Flying Colours

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