Adidas has appointed Fear of God designer Jerry Lorenzo to lead the creative and business strategy of its basketball category, the brand announced via press release this morning. The new long-term partnership will create a division within Fear of God, called Fear of God Athletics, that focuses on performance basketball product and activewear.
"This is a role that is unprecedented in its very nature and nuanced attribution that it defies all titles and traditional definitions," Lorenzo said via press release. "This is a fearless move where shared vision and conviction are at the heart of the accretion of two brands shaping sports and culture, with the purpose to truly multiply our nuanced strengths to revolutionize the performance basketball industry forever."
Lorenzo is best known in the sneaker world for his collaborations with Nike, which had him create a new performance basketball shoe, the Air Fear of God 1, that first released in December 2018.
Sources told Complex last month that Adidas was pursuing a deal with Lorenzo, but the designer demurred when reached for comment weeks ago. He said then that he was still happily under contract with Nike. An Adidas spokesperson declined in November to comment on the brand pursuing a deal with Lorenzo, saying the brand does not comment "on rumors or speculations."
Adidas' basketball business is based out of the brand's North American headquarters in Portland, Oregon, but will soon be moved to Los Angeles, a source tells Complex. Lorenzo's Fear of God brand is based in Los Angeles.
In an episode of the Complex Sneakers Podcast in June, Lorenzo spoke on negotiating a possible long-term deal with Nike.
"The all-black [Fear of God 1] sneaker, I think, had close to 300,000 hits on SNKRS app the day that it dropped in the middle of COVID," he said. "I still have to perform under question. I don't have the luxury of certainty. I don't have the luxury of a five-year deal in front of me."
Later in the episode, the Fear of God designer said that, despite ongoing conversations with Nike, the brand hadn't presented a long-term plan to him.
"As much as I've loved my time with Nike and the opportunities that they've given us, unless they see the future the same way that we see the future, the cost doesn't necessarily make sense for us," Lorenzo said. "We want to be on the basketball court. We want to be on the baseball diamond. We want to be training, running shoes."
The most recent Nike sneaker Lorenzo released was a black-based colorway of the Fear of God 1. According to the designer, it was limited to 100 pairs.
Lorenzo has regularly released sneakers with Nike since the debut Fear of God x Nike collection in December 2018. In addition to the Air Fear of God 1, the collaboration has featured the Air Fear of God Raid, the Air Fear of God Moc, and the retro Skylon 2. Nike has released apparel in partnership with Fear of God in conjunction with those sneakers.
His Nike projects did not mark the beginning of Lorenzo's career in sneakers. Before that, he'd been releasing his own designs independently through Fear of God and worked with Vans on collaborative sneakers that released in 2016 and 2017. Lorenzo also worked alongside Kanye West during the development of the Yeezy Boost 750, the artist's first sneaker with Adidas.
Adidas leadership hopes that Lorenzo's long resume in footwear will benefit the company's basketball business, which has been somewhat lacking in big moments in recent years.
"The global impact that Jerry Lorenzo and Fear of God has had on culture and the industry is undeniable. Jerry is a creative visionary and embodies a true expression of the entrepreneurial spirit today," said Adidas executive board member Brian Garvey via press release. "Jerry's authentic connection to sport, deep understanding of the footwear industry and past, and ability to reinterpret heritage and visualize the future excites us. We look forward to working with him to inspire the next generation of basketball creatives, athletes, and communities."
In the announcement of the deal, Lorenzo spoke on his plan to reshape the sportswear industry with his new partner.
"Adidas and Fear of God share the same dream for the future of basketball, on and beyond the court," the designer said, "and we look forward to changing the face of the industry through a new model that will unfold before us in the coming years."