“I’ve always believed in ‘look good, play good,’” says Jerry Lorenzo, sitting around a campfire. But this isn’t your typical sticks-and-stones set up. This is a primitive conversation pit as imagined by the Fear of God founder. The “fire”: a scattering of wonky bulbs uplighting Lorenzo’s face, who’s perching on a seat fashioned to look like a very conveniently-shaped rock. Around him, display cabinets showing off his latest achievement: Fear Of God’s brand new Athletics collection.
“As a kid, I was more worried about my [sports] uniform,” he continues. “As long as I knew my uniform was good, I thought I was going to have a better game.”
The brand’s Athletics division has been in the works for some time. In fact, Lorenzo has been working on the line, in various iterations, since 2015. At first, he linked up with Nike to bring his vision to life. But after their partnership suddenly ended in 2020, Lorenzo turned to adidas.
“My personal history with adidas is like most kids’ in America. My aspirations were Nike, Jordan, [Andre] Agassi, those types of heroes,” Lorenzo says. “As I’m older now, and I have a better understanding of the brand and a better understanding of what I build, I believe our heart, our point of view is closer than the point of view of Nike. The one rule is simplicity and that’s how I approach things. That was always the intention of Fear of God: how are we making the best product in the most simple way?
“Also, I love the fact that, in America, adidas is considered a second-place brand because it’s German,” he continues. “I’ve always felt like an underdog. And so there are so many different things [about adidas] that I feel are way more aligned with Fear of God than any other performance brand.”
And so, Fear of God Athletics was born. Three years after Lorenzo signed on the dotted line with adidas, the collection officially launched last week in downtown LA, in an event space dubbed “The Athletics Atmosphere”. Inside the cavernous building, the designer set up an installation showcasing the division’s video campaign on four huge monitors, all surrounding three monoliths, arranged to replicate Fear of God’s take on the famous 3‑Stripe. That and the aforementioned campfire were the only areas in the building that were lit up, allowing guests to skulk around in the dark after grabbing a margarita and viewing the brand’s new sportswear offering.
“It’s [about] both this pre-existence and the spirit of perpetuity that I wanted people to feel,” says Lorenzo about the “The Athletics Atmosphere” space. “For them to know immediately that this isn’t like a hot shoe dropping. This is something that maybe always was, and that will be beyond maybe even my lifetime. To have this pre-existence and post-existence that is outside of the conversation of hype that I believe these [types of] collaborations are immediately forced into. I wanted it to be clear that this is not that.”
That intention has naturally seeped into the clothing, too. When designing the collection, Lorenzo delved back into the adidas archives, taking inspiration from the styles of one of its greatest ambassadors, David Beckham. There’s an oversized T‑shirt that nods to the ’90s football shirt silhouette, a slouchy hoodie that, as Lorenzo puts it, “is a modernised goalkeeper jersey” and a basketball shoe that lifts the stripes from Becks’ own Predator football boots.
“I really loved the adidas silhouettes of the late ‘90s and Beckham at that time, being, in my mind, the Jordan of adidas. The football kit was just as swaggy as Michael’s uniform,” says Lorenzo. “So it was the DNA of the shapes, silhouettes and proportions that I gravitated to, modernising it through tonality and dimension.”
The most important way Fear of God Athletics will exist beyond this moment, though, is through its real world impact. Once the line’s launch is done and dusted, Lorenzo hopes to work with schools and youth programmes to sponsor youth teams in the US, inspired by his father, major league baseball player and coach Jerry Manuel Sr.
“My dad started a foundation about 10 years ago that used baseball to provide a better education for inner city kids and kids that don’t necessarily have a good chance,” he explains. “He’s giving major-league-baseball-manager-of-the-year advice to the people that are overlooked. And so it’s my heart’s intention to take the best product and give it to the kids that are overlooked, not the biggest basketball star. I remember being a kid and I couldn’t afford Jordans. So how am I giving that dream to someone that maybe can’t access what we’re making? That to me is more fulfilling, continuing the work that my dad has started.”
As for the here and now, how is Jerry Lorenzo feeling, as he comes to the end of a landmark year that has not only seen him launch Fear of God’s long-awaited Athletics line, but also put on its very first runway show at Hollywood Bowl back in April?
“I want to feel really excited, but I just feel reassured in the purpose and intent of what we’re building,” he says. “It’s more of a humbling feeling than a celebratory feeling. It’s like, yes, things are going the way that we envisioned it.”