Jerry Lorenzo Manuel Jr., founder and designer of streetwear brand Fear of God, was not always a leader in streetwear. Born on October 5, 1976 in Sacramento, California, Lorenzo spent his childhood moving around quite a bit, from Northern California to West Palm Beach and then to Chicago to be near his father Jerry Manuel, a Major League Baseball player turned Minor League coach. Although his father would go on to manage the White Sox and the Mets, and then work as an analyst for MLB Network, Lorenzo and his family grew up poor, often having to drive instead of fly to save money from their home in California to Montreal to be with his father who managed the Expos at the time.
Upon finishing his bachelor’s degree, Jerry Lorenzo moved to Los Angeles where he attended Loyola Marymount University while working as a sales associate at Diesel. At the time, Lorenzo believed he was going to be a sports agent after working for the L.A. Dodgers and a Chicago-based sports agency called CSMG.
In 2008, Lorenzo moved back to Los Angeles and began throwing parties called JL Nights, where on any given night the likes of Virgil Abloh, Pusha-T, and Kid Cudi were in attendance. However, it was not his fashion-filled parties that struck his interest in creating his own brand. That same year, he began managing Dodger all star Matt Kemp and began not only working with the athlete on marketing, but on styling for brand endorsements and his overall image. Upon realizing the styles he desired were not readily available, Lorenzo designed them. Then, Fear of God was born.
His first design was an unrefined version of what is now a classic Fear of God style, a short-sleeve hoodie with side zippers. Before the official Fear of God debut, celebrities including Big Sean, Kanye West, and Justin Bieber flocked to Lorenzo’s’ designs and created hype for a collection that wasn’t even released yet. Then in 2013, Lorenzo released his first season, a 12-piece collection that ranged from the side zip hoodie to a drapey long sleeve tee reminiscent of Rick Owens’ designs. From then on, Lorenzo became one of the most sought after designers. He was recruited by West to design his Donda merch, as well as the iconic Yeezus tour merch, Yeezy Season.
Since Fear of God was unveiled, Lorenzo has dropped six collections—the most recent features a short film starring Jared Leto—encompassing hundreds of designs that live within the streetwear and luxury ethos. Although his collections have developed a cult-like following, the hype behind his designs for Nike are unrivaled. In 2018, Lorenzo dropped his first collection as a sneaker designer for the Fear of God X Nike collaboration. The collection included both clothing and sneakers, and referenced vintage Nike basketball uniforms, referrincing design elements like dropped armholes in the jerseys and short, but loose, shorts. The sneakers—the Nike Air Fear of God 1 and Nike Air Fear of God SA—were classic styles like the Huarache Light brought into the future. The Nike Air Fear of God 1 features a double-stacked Zoom Air cushion in the heel, a cage inspired by the Huarache Light, and Nike’s iconic swoosh. Since the first iteration of the shoe, it has been offered in myriad colorways, including black, light bone, and orange pulse. The Nike Air Fear of God SA has a more minimal design. The silhouette features the same Zoom Bag Air sole, but instead of the cage, the shoe has a Nike swoosh and an ankle strap that can be worn across the front or hang from the back, making it a perfect shoot around sneaker. His performance designs solidified Lorenzo as a fashion invigorator (they even landed him on an episode of Sneaker Shopping, too.)
Since Lorenzo’s’ initial collaboration with Nike, he has released more styles with the brand, including the Nike Air Fear of God 180, the Air Fear of God Mocassin, and the Nike Air Fear of God Raid. Most recently, Lorenzo has revealed his second full collection for Nike inspired by his summers living in Chicago. The SS19 collection builds upon his inaugural drop but reinvents classic athleticwear pieces like a double hooded sweatshirt and plain tee.
Lorenzo’s vision has turned out to be more than just streetwear; it’s American sportswear reinvisioned.