The new head of basketball at Adidas has made a career out of creating something where there used to be nothing.
It began with a void.
Scientists theorize the universe began with nothingness, a blank space that needed to be filled, and eventually was by an explosion of colossal, galactic proportions.
In its own way, so did Fear of God.
As Jerry Lorenzo told Kevin Durant and me on the latest episode of Boardroom’s “The ETCs” podcast, he needed something that “didn’t exist.” After an extensive search, he took things into his own hands. And the rest is history.
Fear of God may often be labeled as “streetwear,” but it may be better described as “luxury everywhere-wear.” Sweatpants that are somehow both casual and upscale, sport coats that are the inverse, and everything in between, all packed into Lorenzo’s unpredictable line of traditional staples and mold-breaking risks.
“I just had a burning conviction that what I wanted to propose to the world was not out there,” he said.
The initial void for Jerry was – like most of his life – rooted in sports. While he served as manager for the then-Los Angeles Dodgers star Matt Kemp, he grew frustrated when he couldn’t find certain clothing items he wanted to outfit his client in.
So he made them himself.
Just like that, Fear of God was born.
It was that initial bit of necessity that set in motion a decade-long odyssey that has led Lorenzo across the planet, from touring with Kanye West and designing the game-changing merch for the Yeezus tour to a famed Nike collaboration. Now, he finds himself in a new gig as the head of basketball at Adidas.
“You can’t put my face on the side of something and expect for it to move,” Lorenzo said about the intricacies of his craftsmanship, which he prides himself on.
But even then, he may be underselling the powerful impact his personal brand has.
While he jokes that “I don’t have an album that’s gonna get you excited about my product coming out. I don’t have a jump shot,” what he does have is that same discerning eye and attention to detail that has his most staunch supporters buying his products the second they release. Even releases from Fear of God’s more affordable offshoot, Essentials, often sell out in seconds and end up on secondary markets like StockX for jacked-up prices.
But today, Lorenzo aims to fill another void with his the final piece of his master plan, the Adidas-partnered Fear of God Athletics. There, Jerry envisions “a handful of guys rocking our shoes in the court,” and eventually a foray into signature sneakers with athletes signed directly to the brand.
This effort proceeds alongside another major Lorenzo goal: course-correcting the current trend of basketball sneakers existing mostly as on-court tech for athletes. He wants to take them back to being the fashionable, everyday wear they were in eras past.
All told, Lorenzo considers keeping basketball sneakers ultra-focused on the on-court functionality rather than the off-court look to be a missed opportunity.
“Why are we not considering the 90% of people that aren’t playing basketball and what their lifestyles look like as much as we’re considering that the 10%? That’s what I thought I was building with the Nike team. We’re not tryna make a shoe that crosses over. Let’s just at least consider the off-the-court kid throughout the entire process of development,” he said.
“How is this gonna work with his jeans? Or how is this gonna work with his sweats? Or how is this gonna work with everything else and not to take any of the performance capabilities away? Just to consider both throughout the design process. And I think that over the last 20 years, it’s been so performance-focused that the industry has lost sight of the reality that the majority of these shoes just aren’t worn on the basketball courts.”
And now, that industry waits with bated breath to see just how Jerry Lorenzo will go about filling another void.
Though it surely won’t be his last.
Click here to listen to this episode of “The ETCs” podcast with Jerry Lorenzo now.