Fear of God’s Jerry Lorenzo is already responsible for dressing most of the best basketball players in the world. Whether it’s the drapey and dusty designs from Fear of God’s mainline or the sweatsuits put out through the Essentials collection, the world’s premier hoopers flock to Lorenzo’s designs. Fear of God is so endemic to the culture around basketball that the NBA2K franchise put the brand’s shoes in the game. Now, Lorenzo will go from dressing basketball players off the court to designing what they wear on the hardwood. On Tuesday, Lorenzo and Adidas announced a partnership that will see the designer head up the Three Stripes’ basketball division as well as the formation of Fear of God Athletics.
The news coming from Adidas HQ is vague and brief, but the implications are significant. For starters, this means that Lorenzo’s long-running partnership with Nike is kaput. In many ways, the announcement mirrors longtime Lorenzo pal Kanye West’s jump from Beaverton, Oregon to Herzogenaurach, Germany, where Adidas is headquartered. Both Kanye and Lorenzo went from making flaming hot sneakers with Nike to taking on a much broader role with the Three Stripes. Kanye, of course, produces sneakers and apparel for Yeezy with Adidas, and it appears that Lorenzo has a similar roadmap in mind. “The partnership will also solidify the establishment and formation of the third pillar of the Fear of God house, Fear of God Athletics,” a press release reads. “The new pillar will focus on performance basketball and active lifestyle products that complete Fear of God’s triune nature and compliments the brand’s other two pillars, Essentials and Fear of God’s luxury mainline.”
More on that “triune nature”: following the announcement, Lorenzo shared in an Instagram caption that these three pillars have long been the plan for Fear of God. “It is through the blueprint of the trinity that we find the foundation for all design and creation,” he wrote. (Who knew the development of an uber-successful fashion brand so closely mirrored the quest in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time? It’s all about the Triforce, baby.) Of course, the parallels with Adidas and its logo are evident. Lorenzo even got a tattoo of three stripes running down the back of his neck. Apropos of nothing, did we mention Fear of God is a Los Angeles-based brand?
Aside from the made-in-the-stars nature of this partnership, it will also go a long way towards realizing Lorenzo’s vision for Fear of God. Lorenzo has not been shy about his ambitions: in a recent GQ profile he professed that he’s chasing a Ralph Lauren-esque legacy. Lauren famously built his label through outfitting the American dream—designing the sweaters, suits, and fine china essential to living out that fantasy. And while Lauren came of age in a time when he could build his empire off neckties, the table is set very differently in 2020. Today, American aspiration is largely defined by the LeBron James and Michael Jordans of the world. Sneakers have replaced leather brogues, and sweatsuits have come for the suit-suits. It’s not an overstatement to say that heading up the basketball division at the second-biggest sportswear company in the world—one that did 23.64 billion euros in revenue last year—is a clear road to helping shape an American idea of success in 2020.
And Lorenzo is the ideal candidate to lead up a modern basketball division. Despite the growing cultural impact of the sport, sales of actual basketball sneakers have been steadily declining over the past several years. While Lorenzo doesn’t come from the world of technical basketball sneakers, he is well versed in making the sort of fashion objects that orbit pick-up games, NBA tunnel arenas, and All-Star weekend. This is more of a cultural play than a straight activewear one. “The global impact that Jerry Lorenzo and Fear of God has had on culture and the industry is undeniable,” Brian Grevy, the Adidas executive board member responsible for Global Brands. “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.”
Beyond solidifying Fear of God as a fashion powerhouse, 2020 has proven out Lorenzo’s chameleonic abilities. He came into this year best known for sweatpants with comically extended drawstrings. He quickly proved himself to be a thoughtful and adept designer of tailoring through a collaboration with Zegna, and then in his own line’s most recent,worn-by-Frances McDormand-on-the-cover-of-Vogue collection. Now, Lorenzo will have a chance to show off another untapped talent with Adidas. At this point, it would be a mistake to doubt it will be a success.