The story behind the Fear of God brand

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When Jerry Lorenzo was young, he and his family read daily devotions together. His mother had 30 to 40, but they often studied "My Utmost for His Highest" by Oswald Chambers, one of the most popular religious hardcovers ever written.


"Reading about the fear of God and the clouds and darkness around His kingdom if you didn't know Him, but have [them] out of respect and reverence for Him if you did know Him ..." explains Lorenzo in his warm, dulcet voice . "That juxtaposition was so great for me."

Years later, My Utmost for His Highest inspired the name of Lorenzo's clothing brand, Fear of God, which he launched in 2013. "I always wanted to do something around Christianity, but it seemed corny," said the 39-year-old. on a March afternoon in his showroom in a renovated warehouse in downtown LA. “But when I read [My Utmost For His Highest], I knew I had the basics and the basics to keep me going. It was enough to build on. I knew I had a name for the company. '

A devotional book may be an unusual resource for fashion creativity, but not for Lorenzo. All about Fear of God - the sleeveless flannel with side zips, BMX jersey (inspired by a similar one he found at the Rose Bowl Flea Market), bomber jackets and military sneakers influenced by religion, hip-hop, grunge and Allen Iverson - is rooted in who he is and his vastly diverse interests. He listens to Kurt Cobain and the Migos. He inherited the love for vintage from his mother, who often shopped antiques. In his showroom, there is a smaller brick-walled room lined with dozens of framed, original rock concert posters he purchased from Italian photographer Henry Ruggeri. Even right now, Lorenzo, who has tattoos that swing both arms down, has a boxed beard and cornrows plaited evenly across his head, wearing a vintage Tina Turner T-shirt with random holes that look like moths, white basketball shorts and basketball sneakers from the upcoming fifth collection of Fear of God's, gold chains and a diamond-encrusted cross-shaped earring hanging from his left earlobe.

"What you see in Fear of God is an organic transfer of how Jerry dresses on a daily basis," said Chris Gibbs, owner of Union Los Angeles menswear store, which sells Fear of God. Jerry has a very specific point of view. There is nothing like it. That's why the brand is doing very well for us. (Fear of God is one of the top five brands in Union, according to Gibbs.)

Since the launch of a capsule of short-sleeved hoodies and extra-long T-shirts, Fear of God - dubbed a streetwear and contemporary brand, although Lorenzo prefers the term luxury or designer - has developed a cult following. The designs are everywhere. Justin Bieber was photographed wearing Fear of God drawstring pants while in LA. Last year, Kanye West defied the theme of the Met Gala wearing ripped jeans from the brand. Retailers such as Barneys and RSVP Gallery can hardly put the product on the shelves. Fast-fashion retailers, such as H&M, and other labels have even sold imitations of Fear of God's designs.

“It bothers me if you take my exact ideas and try to say the same thing when I try to say,” says Lorenzo.

That question has led to collaborations with Vans on sneakers and PacSun on a younger, lower-cost line called FOG. Lorenzo even designed Bieber's Purpose touring merch. “Revenues consistently more than double any Fear of God collection,” he says.

But unlike most other successful brands, Fear of God hasn't had a machine. No investors. No sales or marketing team. Until six months ago, Lorenzo and his small team of four employees worked from his home in Glendale, California. Lorenzo does not follow a fashion calendar, but releases collections when he thinks they are ready. He refuses to do a fashion show. "That's a luxury for me," he says. “Luxury is making your own schedule and being your own boss. It's like Jay Z said, "Until you're on your own, you can't be free no matter how much money you make." "

He may want his clothes to be classified as either luxury or designer, but he doesn't like to be called a 'designer'. "I have a lot of respect for Raf Simons, Ralph Lauren or Rick Owens, these conceptual designers," he says. "It looks like what I do, but I feel like I am doing it from a solution. I try to tell a story rather than design a collection."

Lorenzo feels comfortable outside of the fashion world. Clothing isn't his only focus. 'At some point you have to be doing something,' he says.

Jerry Lorenzo Manuel didn't always envision a career in fashion. He was born in Sacramento, but moved quite a bit - to West Palm Beach and then Chicago - so that he and his family could be with his father Jerry Manuel, a top-tier baseball player who became a minor league coach. His father eventually ran the White Sox and the Mets and is now an analyst for MLB Network, but growing up they didn't have much money. “We were pay to pay until I graduated from high school,” says Lorenzo. As a child, his mother drove him and his three siblings from West Palm Beach to Montreal for 23 hours every summer to be with his father, who was coaching for the Expos at the time because they couldn't afford to buy plane tickets. He recalls being around Major League families, who had millions of dollars, but lived in a studio apartment with his parents and siblings for months during a training camp.

After college, Lorenzo completed his MBA at Loyola Marymount in LA. "I always felt like LA was a city of opportunity," says Lorenzo. “So I came out here, was in high school by day and worked at Diesel on the Promenade at night. '

His first real jobs were in sports - handling corporate sponsorships for the LA Dodgers and later head of player marketing for Chicago-based sports agency CSMG, whose clientele at the time included Dwyane Wade, Matt Leinart and Donovan McNabb. “I thought I was going to be a sports agent,” he recalls.

But in 2008, Lorenzo moved back to LA and started throwing parties he called JL Nights. “There weren't any parties I could go to to hear hip hop and see people dressed just like me,” he says. "So we made that." Every night you see celebrities like Pusha T or Kid Cudi or brand owners like Don C. “The parties were legendary,” says Lorenzo.

 

JL Nights eventually took off and became a full-time job. He closed the party to focus on Fear of God, but Lorenzo insists he doesn't miss the parties. "I've been sober for 16 months. I have a family. My life is in a different place," he says. "So much of what I thought was socially important just isn't important to me anymore."

Lorenzo says he realized he wanted to make clothes after managing former Dodger all-star Matt Kemp, who he started working with in 2008. “I did all of his off-the-field marketing, his notes at DIRECTV, Big League Chew and Beats by Dre,” he says. "I was also busy with his styling and helped him with his image." One day, while shopping for Kemp, he realized there were plenty of things he wanted for his customer that weren't available.