The Jolly Roger may not strike fear in the hearts of those who see it today. However, in its day, the black version of this flag communicated a terrifying ultimatum from an approaching pirate ship: surrender or die. Once the black flag was flown, you had the opportunity to relinquish. But, if you tried to flee or fight, the black flag would be replaced by a red flag which meant no quarter would be given and all aboard would be killed or beaten into submission.
Many theories exist about the origin of the Jolly Roger, but one theory that is that it evolved out of the french term Jolie Rouge, which happens to be red cross used in the Noah logo. It is said that the Knights Templar, who at the time had the most powerful navy in the known world, flew the flag of the Jolie Rouge. Legend has it that they controlled tremendous wealth and used it to loan money, even to Kings. One such king, Philip IV of France in collusion with Pope Clement the V, deeply in debt to the Templars, outlawed the Templars. On a fateful Friday, the 13th to be exact, orders throughout Europe came down to arrest the Templars ending their reign of power and simultaneously freeing King Philip of his debt. However, some of the Templars were warned and found escape on their ships. Over time, it is said they evolved into outlaws and became pirates flying the flag of the Jolly Roger, the skull and crossbones.
For us, both the Jolie Rouge and the Jolly Roger are very powerful symbols and hold tremendous places in history. Rather than communicating the intent to plunder, we at Noah see it as a symbol of a select group whose shared ideals were forced underground, hardening their methods and resolve. They both represent groups of independent thinkers and outlaws. This is something we can relate to, and a flag we’re proud to fly.