The show was held at the Hollywood Bowl, an outdoor concert venue 10 minutes from Lorenzo’s home — and a regular date night destination for Lorenzo and his wife Desiree — which he considers “the last iconic venue in LA”. Bookended by live performances from English songwriter Sampha and American rapper Pusha T, it was a revelatory and vividly expressive leap forward in Fear of God’s evolution that explicitly connected Lorenzo’s own identity — his Christianity, his ancestry, and his life experience — with his established design codes. An exploration of American luxury, its cinematic scope felt akin to Ralph Lauren’s epic Spring/Summer 2023 show in delivery while simultaneously being rooted in experience rather than fantasy.
Even when not running on fumes, it must be observed that Lorenzo makes a poor subject for a business interview. His primary obsessions are shapes, drapes and being true to his vision of the brand and self-expression. After a peripatetic preface, he launched Fear of God a decade ago in 2013 with no formal training — simply the conviction that there was a gap in the market. Of targets, numbers, strategy, positioning and other such conventional metrics, he observes: “I’ll never find my peace by thinking that we’re ‘on trend’, or we’re doing what the world thinks we need to be doing. I honestly find more peace in waters where I’m swimming by myself. The call of our brand is to do a new thing. And that new thing doesn’t necessarily have benchmarks, and it doesn’t necessarily have goals that are quantifiable.”
However, elsewhere in Milk Studios, which Fear of God used as its base of operations during the show, there are numbers to be gleaned. As part of Fear of God’s second-decade plans, Lorenzo recently took on his first CEO. Alfred Chang, who began his duties mid-March, first encountered Fear of God seven years ago when he was working with US retailer Pacsun and began partnering with Lorenzo to offer the then-nascent Essentials line. Then known as ‘FoG’, Essentials has since grown into a commercial juggernaut streetwear staple across the US, UK, China and beyond.
Fear of God, which is privately owned, currently employs around 60 people from its LA arts district HQ, and according to Chang, there will likely be 100 names on the payroll by the end of this year. Some of the new hires might be tasked with staffing the brand’s much anticipated first flagship store, also in LA. Without giving an opening date or address, Chang confirms that the store is “in the works”. Lorenzo says a planned opening to coincide with this week’s show had hit some bumps in the road due to “factors beyond our control”. Unflustered, he adds: “We know that the store will get here when the time is right.”
Soon enough, a new avenue of expression will open up for Fear of God. Wednesday’s show, Lorenzo says, “was 95 per cent Eighth collection. Then we had a few of the Adidas sneakers in there, and the suede bag.” This was the first real-time glimpse of Athletics, a new co-brand project between the Californian brand and German sportswear giant that will see Lorenzo design a line of professional basketball sneakers and apparel. In the coming weeks, the companies will release a new campaign further outlining the scale and scope of the project.
Adidas has been much scrutinised since the financially calamitous implosion of its relationship with Ye (formerly Kanye West) in the wake of his wrecking-ball spree of offensive rhetoric last October and beyond. Ye was in the Hollywood Bowl bleachers Wednesday night with his new partner Bianca Censori. Lorenzo, who was encouraged by Ye in the earlier years of Fear of God and for several years designed for Ye’s creative agency Donda, is disinclined to do anything but champion his old friend. “His being there meant a lot to me,” he says. “We worked together for three, four years. There are very few other people that understand the weight of this space.”
Citing Ye, the late Virgil Abloh and Kerby Jean-Raymond of Pyer Moss, Lorenzo adds: “Because of our similarities and ethnicity, we are constantly looked at as if we are competing against each other. There’s always this division that we as friends have to intentionally make sure is not there. So, it was important to me to have that friendship.”
The Eighth collection broadened Fear of God’s existing dialect — Lorenzo obsesses about volume and recoils at the word “oversized” — by exploring new, lighter fabrications. It also contained two new categories: women’s footwear and bags. “I've always wanted to do women's footwear: I love the way women look in men’s clothing. But, I think the elegance comes from the footwear placed against that masculine shape,” Lorenzo explains. The epic scale of the runway meant that detailed footwear inspection was impossible on the night, but in the studio, Lorenzo’s square-heeled Mary Janes appear convincing and accomplished.
Another notable development on Wednesday was a broadening of Fear of God’s neutral palette. Along with “oversized”, however, “neutral” is an adjective that Lorenzo refutes: “The collection is built from the position that hey, I just want to be elegant and quiet: just see me as a human being. I don't want to be too loud. But, there’s zero intention for us to be neutral. I’m trying to speak what I feel is my honest truth.” He adds: “I’m communicating an American story. This is American luxury. And that is born from all types of cultures. When you bring everything together, the beauty of it is breathtaking.”
Lorenzo is an instinctual designer who captains an intuitively of-its-time house. While hitting a billion might be the by-product of a greater goal — or “intention”, as he would doubtless put it — for Fear of God to achieve both benchmarks in its second decade seems entirely feasible.