Lorenzo still doesn’t adhere to the dictates of the traditional fashion calendar—he puts out a new Fear of God collection only when he’s ready, usually once every year or so. His seventh collection includes denim and sneakers and a classical, graphic homage to the Negro Leagues, but for the first time, it also contains elevated knitwear, louche suiting, even loafers: effortless but expertly tailored clothes made to be worn from inside, rather than outside, the gates.
Since its unveiling in August, the collection has been hailed by publications from the Los Angeles Times to Vogue as a breakthrough—“a transitional punctuation mark between ‘emerging’ and ‘emerged,’ ” as the latter put it. The collection takes the same energy Lorenzo had once put behind reinventing streetwear and turns it toward the entirety of the male wardrobe. The statement is as clear as the graphic he might have once affixed to a hoodie: Fear of God doesn’t just make T-shirts anymore. It makes anything you might think to put on.
“He is very sophisticated,” said Alessandro Sartori, the artistic director of Zegna, with whom Lorenzo collaborated on a collection earlier this year. “It’s not just about one element. It’s the combination of materials, of colors, of attitude, of mood—everything is very chic and sophisticated.” Abloh was more direct: “To me, Jerry’s latest collection is proof that he’s producing, generationally, the pinnacle of new American luxury.”
The particular mix of inspirations behind Fear of God—God and baseball, Nirvana and rap, suburban malls and rare, deadstock vintage—is something that Lorenzo comes by honestly. Born Jerry Lorenzo Manuel, he is the son of former Major League Baseball manager Jerry Manuel and grew up traveling the country as his father changed jobs, showing up every few years as the new kid in a new place. “I’ve been crossing worlds my whole life, going to an all-white school and trying to hang out with the small group of Black kids, and also trying to fit in with the punk kids and the skaters,” he said. “And I think one of the things Fear of God has been able to do is take all those cues but just say one thing. We’re not saying hip-hop, we’re not saying grunge, we’re not saying Wall Street. We’re just saying: This is American fashion.”
Unlike many of his creative director peers, Jerry Lorenzo actually wears what he designs, and Fear of God’s most iconic silhouettes have often come off his own back. The typical style (track pants, jerseys, cozy sweatshirts) and proportion of a Fear of God outfit—slim on the bottom, oversize on top, and frequently layered inside out, short on top of long, as if the wearer got dressed in reverse—are, in Lorenzo’s telling, straightforwardly autobiographical. “My whole life, even though my dad’s been in baseball, we never had money,” he said, referring to his father’s years coaching in the minor leagues. “So, being in certain circles and not having dollars to buy the things that you wanted to represent, I really tried to utilize what I had in the best way possible to have a point of view—whether that’s turning my T-shirt inside out to kind of show that I’m not caring, or if that’s playing on proportions, with a jacket that says hip-hop and your jeans that say Hedi Slimane.” Jared Leto said, “His work creates stories based on his personal experience, his passions, and his dreams. When you’re wearing Fear of God, you’re sharing in that personal vision.”