I arrive at Dumbo House ten minutes early, but George and Kofi are already there waiting when I enter. They are seated on the outdoor patio overlooking the Brooklyn Bridge. They don’t recognize me, but I immediately recognize them. Kofi is wearing a black Rebel Noir dad cap with the iconic skull and rose insignia, and George is wearing a grey polo bearing the same mark. They are conversing at a rapid pace, completely in the moment and trying to determine something important. The pair interacts like brothers. This is exactly how I imagined they would be when I reached out to them.
Kofi and George are the founders of Rebel Noir, the latest urban movement out of NYC. I first became aware of the brand when I noticed their brand art on 145th street in Harlem that showcased the skull logo and website. Comparable to the first time you learn the meaning behind 11:11, I began to encounter Rebel Noir everywhere at once—online, in the gym, and at events. Thereafter, when I spotted one of my favorite YouTube vloggers, Kid Fury, wearing a Rebel Noir t-shirt, I immediately began to research the brand.
Founded by two individuals who, throughout their lives, have gone against the grain to achieve and rise when faced with adversity, Rebel Noir embraces the idea of progress despite circumstance. A meaningful contrast exists within the iconic logo: the skull represents struggle, while the rose highlights the beauty that subsequently follows. As I continued learning about the brand, I became eager to understand its origins. Thus, I reached out to the company through their website and requested to meet with the creators. After significant back and forth, I was able to secure an interview with Kofi Ofori-Ansah and George Wilson, the co-founders of Rebel Noir.
I approached both men and introduced myself. We spent approximately three hours discussing everything from the Rebel Noir origins to their vision for the brand. Originally, I had thought that Rebel Noir was solely an apparel line (hence the name “Rebel Noir Clothing Company”), but during our time together, I learned that the brand has grown to represent much more.
Many themes emerged during our discussion. We discussed the fabric of resilience and what it means to be a primal human being—a survivalist—and shared values related to leadership, dedication, perseverance, triumph, self-motivation, accountability, and what it means to exhibit an alpha dog mindset. We also discussed racism and discrimination in American society, which is closely tied to the Rebel Noir origin story (Kofi and George both identify as African American). Accordingly, the history of resilience displayed by Black people in American society over the course of centuries is paramount to the foundation of Rebel Noir, which directly translates to “Black Rebel.” However, Kofi and George are adamant that Rebel Noir has evolved to represent more than Black people. It represents a brotherhood/sisterhood of shared ideals—a unified approach to maximizing our time on earth. The pair further describes it as a secret society that doesn’t seek to talk much, but rather show and inspire.
Rebel Noir is deliberately obscure when it comes to explaining itself. Both Kofi and George relish in the fact that a myriad of groups have found their own unique resonance with the brand. In fact, people from all backgrounds have found a way to connect with Rebel Noir, as evidenced by their international distribution. Nevertheless, the largest consumer base remains solidly in NYC.
Currently, Rebel Noir is expanding beyond apparel. Specifically, they are exploring private events for influential members of society, while developing a global network of influential members who are redefining their industries and pre-existing paradigms. In addition, they are exploring several event partnerships with known entities that embody the Rebel Noir message. To stay up to date regarding the latest developments and partnership announcements, go to rebelnoir.com or visit their Instagram @rebelnoirclothing.
George shared some of his recent struggles with me, including how he had recently broken every bone in both of his legs and had to completely relearn how to walk. At the same time, he had a one-year old daughter to care for who was pulling at him daily to “get up” and “walk.” All of this occurred while balancing a full-time job and bearing the weight of a global pandemic in addition to the race-related protests and tragedies taking place in 2020. However, the conditions created such significant pressure that it formed a diamond: Rebel Noir.
Towards the conclusion of our interview, Kofi shared a Bruce Lee quote that resonated with me: “Do not wish for an easy life; pray for the strength to endure a difficult one.” That strength to endure is precisely what sets those who love Rebel Noir apart from the rest. They value the hunt, and they recognize the beauty and growth that result from the struggle. Before departing, Kofi presented me with a Rebel Noir cap. After learning so much about the brand, it was a pretty cool moment, and I felt initiated into the fold.