In honor of the 2012 London Olympics, Marks & Spencer and Oxfam tag-teamed to create the world’s largest “Union Jack” from unwanted clothing. Unfurled at West Ham Park in East London on Thursday, the 65-foot-long “clothes mosaic” comprises nearly 2,100 red, white, and blue garments from the department store’s “Shwopping” initiative, a U.K.-wide clothing-recycling program that encourages shoppers to surrender an unwanted piece of clothing for every new one they buy. Click below the fold to watch a time-lapse video of how it came together.


With the help of volunteers from Elevation Networks, the record-making endeavor took just under two hours to complete, or just before the winner of the 10-kilometer Open Water Swim at the Serpentine—in which which British athlete Keri-Anne Payne was the local favorite—crossed the finish line. (Hungary’s Eva Risztov claimed the gold, while Haley Anderson of the United States took home the silver.)

The flag took just under two hours to complete—or just before the winner of the 10-km Open Water Swim crossed the finish line.

One in three Britons has thrown away six or more items of clothing over the past 12 months, according to a recent M&S survey. In a span of six weeks, Shwopping had already amassed half a million used and unwanted items at a rate of eight a minute for Oxfam to resell, reuse, or recycle. The charity will repurpose all the clothing used in the creation of the flag in a similar fashion.

+ Marks & Spencer

Originally published on August 11, 2012.