Fashion | February 19th, 2024

Jerry Lorenzo: America’s Fashion Saviour is a FAMU Grad

By: Cariane Geffrard | Staff Writer
Jerry Lorenzo: America’s Fashion Saviour is a FAMU Grad

At the convergence of comfort and class, Jerry Lorenzo reigns supreme. 

When Lorenzo founded Fear of God in 2013, he did not set out to invent something new but rather exalt everyday pieces to bridge the gap in the streetwear market.

“This new culture that’s meshed hip-hop with grunge and all these different types of music and influences—when you mix it all up, what’s the highest-elevated form of what that is?” Lorenzo said to Johnathan Evans at Esquire Magazine.

Now a decade and some change later, the Fear of God fashion house includes the luxury menswear mainline of the same name, Fear of God ESSENTIALS and Fear of God Athletics. 

ESSENTIALS quickly became a cult classic amongst streetwear aficionados for its familiar fabrics with iconic silhouettes and an earth-tone color palette at a less expensive price range than the more luxury pieces of the main label. 

Fear of God Athletics is the latest collaboration between Lorenzo and Adidas – an arrangement of resources and energy made after Lorenzo was initially chosen to become the creative director of Adidas Basketball. 

Purposeful Beginnings

Jerry Lorenzo was born in Sacramento, California. Still, he spent most of his childhood traveling as he was the son of Jerry Lorenzo Manuel Sr. Manuel, nicknamed “the Sage,” was an MLB player for the Detroit Tigers, Montreal Expos, and San Diego Padres before transitioning to a manager and coach for teams in Chicago, New York, Montreal and Florida. 

Despite the prominence of his father’s legacy in baseball, Lorenzo remembers growing up in privileged circles without riches. Still, he constantly reworked fashion to emulate the “swagger” of the athletic world he was immersed in.

After graduating from Florida A&M University with his bachelor’s degree in public relations, Lorenzo moved to Los Angeles to obtain his master’s degree. Paying his way through graduate school with retail jobs at Diesel and eventually managing a sponsorship with the LA Dodgers, he then became a party promoter. 

It was his immersion in LA nightlife that built connections with Hollywood stars like Meagan Good and Matt Kempe and inspired him to look into clothing. 

In an interview with Style Magazine, Lorenzo explains the culture of “in-betweens”: a feeling he shared with his friends where their personalities and fashion senses did not fully fit in one crowd of the parties they attended.

 “I approached clothes the same way I approached parties,” Lorenzo said. “I was trying to create a space that I didn’t feel like existed, create a crowd that didn’t exist – with music and a DJ, you know, a place I wanted to hang out that didn’t exist in LA. And so I was like, ‘Man, if I would want to hang out in a place that feels like this, I’m sure someone else would.’”

Equipped with nostalgia for his favorite childhood devotional book, “My Utmost for His Highest” by Oswald Chambers, and $14,000 of personal savings, Lorenzo launched the Fear of God brand solely off the foundation he was tapping into an unseen market.

His debut quickly attracted the attention and admiration of Virgil Abloh, who would introduce Lorenzo to his now longtime collaborator, Kanye West. Lorenzo would also be tapped to work with Justin Bieber and Kendrick Lamar to style and design clothes worn on their respective Purpose and DAMN tours.

Future of Fashion?

 To the untrained eye, the Fear of God brand might seem like overpriced athleisure. 

However, the quality of fabrics and materials and the brand’s exclusivity are exactly what has made it successful while being independently owned. Fear of God is the latest American fashion brand to be highly profitable and acclaimed globally – a feat hard to achieve by American-owned fashion houses in recent years.

The vintage feel of the graphic T-shirts and plaid flannels that Lorenzo started with to the starch denim, highly replicated $1,000 tracksuit pants, and Italian wool hoodies he has now show the evolving nature of casual fashion.

For Lorenzo, it was never about following the trend of athleisure that boomed from Generation Z’s entrance into the consumer market and the need for comfortable “stay-at-home” clothing from the coronavirus epidemic; Fear of God was born from authenticity. With every piece Lorenzo creates, one can see that the personal influences from his childhood are more than likely the same influences the average person might have had.

That American culture of sharing in values despite differences is what Fear of God represents, almost as an homage to Lorenzo’s idol, Ralph Lauren.   

For those interested in learning more about Fear of God, Jerry Lorenzo’s path to success, and being Black and in a luxury fashion space, Lorenzo will return to campus as the featured guest for FAMU’s 2024 Black History Month Conversation on Tuesday, Feb. 20, in the Lee Hall Auditorium at 6 p.m.