Rebels Closet owner Conway Armstead with Takiya Lipscomb, director of operations.
The intersection between subcultures has always been present in history. From skaters blasting alt-hip hop to punk rock kids skanking to ska, the line between underground movements is one forever blurred.
It’s this almost-inherent connection that drives Rebels Closet, the new clothing store that’s set up shop in True Planet Vintage Boutique’s former home at 4501 Baltimore Ave. With an emphasis on street-wear fashion, Rebels Closet’s aim is to serve as an artistic and fashion meeting point “for all those different [counter]cultures,” said owner and former West Philly resident Conway Armstead. Sought-after national street brands like Mighty Healthy and BGRT will hang from racks next to local designers like G.E.E.K (Good Energy = Quals Kreation) Clothing Inc. that offer “an organic, more cultural-type feel,” which, according to Director of Operations Takiya Lipscomb, will appeal to “the immediate neighborhood.”
“We are going to be having those brands that people look for and [are] very rare to find in Philadelphia,” Lipscomb said. “[But] we’re gonna have an element for people who love couture, for people who wear basics every day. There’s going to be something for everybody.”
Rebels Closet held a soft opening on Sunday to introduce the new space to West Philly residents, and “give them a taste” of what the store will carry once it officially opens at the end of the month. While a multitude of items are currently available for purchase, it is not a “full representation” of what’s to come, which includes a fuller men’s department and the launch of a women’s department, according to Lipscomb. Armstead said he is also open to meeting with local designers about potentially carrying their lines.
“Rebels Closet” mural designed by Philadelphia graffiti writer and Armstead’s good friend Satan (a.k.a. SN)
But Armstead wants Rebels Closet to act as much more than a place to buy new gear. He also plans to use the vibrant, artwork-laden shop as a cultural destination, possibly renting it out for poetry readings, album listening parties, and rolling art galleries.
“It’s really cool the fact that we can take everything off the floor and make it look like a completely empty space and funk it out to be whatever you want it to be,” said Lipscomb. “[We] want to do those types of things during First Friday and First Thursday events [and] just bring in something that draws in the artistic crowd.”
In the end, Rebels Closet is a symbol for grassroots revolution, in both name and space. It represents nonconformity and individuality—a drum beat for authenticity accented by the yet-to-be completed mural on the back wall brandishing its name. “Most of [the brands] you won’t find in larger chain stores. Even they have an organic, self-expressive attitude. That’s what the rebel thing is about,” said Armstead, who is present at the store every day. “It’s just a form of expression that might not be a popular statement or way of thinking but it is what it is.”
“Everybody is their own rebel, whether you’re a rebel for the earth, or a rebel against the machine,” added Lipscomb. “Everybody has a rebel in them and this can be your closet.”
Rebels Closet is open Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., and on Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Apparel is available in sizes small to XXL , and ranges from $20-25 for t-shirts, $40 for sweatshirts, and $35-45 for shorts.
- Annamarya Scaccia