At the back of a studio in West Hollywood, John Mayer and Jerry Lorenzo are obsessively planning outfits. No detail is too small, and for the next hour, Lorenzo and Mayer sift through racks of clothing—a mix of Fear of God’s Sixth collection, Mayer’s own assemblage of kimonos, denim, and shirts from Japanese brands visvim and Kapital, and the upcoming Nike Air Fear of God collaboration. “This is the future,” Mayer says of the sail high-top Air Fear of God sneakers, his eyes widening. “You know the movie Her? These would be the shoes in that [film].”
Before today, Mayer and Lorenzo were admirers from afar; the first time they met was on the set of this cover. But the respect is mutual and the chemistry palpable. “I told my wife [John’s] my new best friend,” Lorenzo joked on set.
Both in their 40s—Mayer, 41, and Lorenzo, 41—they share some common ground. For years, Mayer, the Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter, has been revered as an overall taste gawd. Lorenzo, who founded his label Fear of God five years ago, has emerged as one of the biggest names in streetwear and fashion. Both are the types of guys hypebeasts and menswear nerds praise. But to hear them tell it, they stepped back from that spotlight briefly to focus on their respective crafts. Now, they’re ready to show the world what they’ve been up to.
On Dec. 15, Lorenzo will launch his highly anticipated Nike Air Fear of God collaboration. Mayer, who released new singles “New Light” and “I Guess I Just Feel Like,” has even more new music, including an album, on the way. But our two-hour conversation is less about music and fashion and more about how Mayer and Lorenzo hold it all together. Here’s what happens when two of the most recognizable faces in their industries get candid.
This cover represents everything that Complex is about—the converging of two worlds that are similar but different. It’s no coincidence you guys are both wearing your first Nike shoe. I wanna ask, was it your own silo or nothing? Only a handful of people get their own silhouette.
John Mayer: Great question.
Jerry Lorenzo: I respected the opportunity to work with Nike so much that I was willing to not have the opportunity if I couldn’t honor it through my gifts and talents. I went to Nike and I said, “My gifts are not coloring up anything. My gift is in shape, and not only do I need my own silhouette, I need to fly my last in from Italy. It needs to be this shape.” Nike said, “Hey, we feel like kids just aren’t wearing our performance shoes during the day. Straight up. How can we style this?” I’m like, “It’s not a style thing. It’s a shape thing. I can come fix the shape, and you guys have the best designers in the world that can help me do some style, but let’s get the shape right.” That’s why it took so long to happen. It’s been like two and a half, three years since we’ve been working on it. I think everything is timing, man. Nike was in a place where they were open to new ideas and new perspectives. That opportunity pushed me to do what we did with [Fear of God’s] Sixth collection. It was like, what am I doing in my own world that is worthy of being able to put something like this and propose something like this to the world?
Jerry, you mentioned that you had to go away, and earlier, John, you said you either get off the horse or you’re thrown off the horse. Why do you think you have to go away sometimes to come back stronger?
Mayer: Nobody can be a good pilot of their behavior and their creativity endlessly, successfully. And I’ve even said to people who sorta came back to the pop world, I’ve said I’m good for four, five more shots and then I’m gonna hand it back to you. But I know that for the next three, four songs I’m gonna nail it. You just can’t be at the center of your own behavior as the creative director of all your thoughts without saying, “I’m gonna come to the end of a winning streak here.” You have to get off the field for a minute and take a break and watch the world go by. It’s very difficult for people who are on social media now… There are people who do not understand the feeling of going away. It feels like dying, and there’s nobody to tell you to go away because the way your life is built now, you’re the boss. And what you get now is this continual doubling down of everything. Oh, that worked? Twice as much now. Oh, that worked? Another twice as much.