As hype builds for Jerry Lorenzo‘s debut adidas Basketball collection, the Fear of God founder took a moment out of his busy day to speak with Pyer Moss‘ Kerby Jean-Raymond for Interview. The two touch on topics ranging from Lorenzo’s forthcoming work with The Three Stripes to their approaches in transitioning from independent design teams to corporate creative endeavors.

The conversation hinges around Lorenzo’s experience with adidas, which Jean-Raymond considers in light of his own appointment as Reebok’s Vice President of Creative Direction. Even though neither one will unveil their finalized creations with the sportswear companies until 2022 — Lorenzo and his team only started working with adidas late last year, after all — there’s plenty to be done.

“The thing about Adidas is that they’re in a unique position to bend in uncomfortable ways in order to make this work,” Lorenzo says. “They’re already under the understanding that this is going to have to work differently in order for this to pierce culture in a way that we’re all hoping it will.”

Jean-Raymond concurs: ” We’re there to force their hand, to make them think a bit smaller, and to rally around the creative.”

Lorenzo admits that adidas is demanding “A lot more [time] than I anticipated,” to which Jean-Raymond affirms that “cracking this lane wide open” is “fatiguing.”

“All you can do is plant the seeds,” Lorenzo contends. “Water them to the best of your ability. That’s the reality of what we do in fashion. If we see somebody on the street wearing our product wrong, we can’t go over there and fix the jacket.”

Jean-Raymond jokingly disagrees, however: “I walk up to people wearing my sh*t in the street and I’m like, ‘Hey man, tuck your pants inside your socks.'”

Later, the pair discuss the response to Fear of God’s latest collection (“Overwhelming,” says Lorenzo) and the far-reaching impact of ESSENTIALS.

“At first the line was called F.O.G. but we changed the name to ESSENTIALS two-and-a-half years ago because I didn’t want it to sound like a takedown of our main line,” Lorenzo recalls.

When we changed the name initially, we got a lot of blowback. But I wanted it to reflect what it is: the best possible version of the basics. … You could wear ESSENTIALS sweats with a $3,500 USD overcoat from our main line. Or a mint hoodie with our $700 USD mainline luxury loafers. … I know more people who can afford Essentials than our main line. Being able to reach those people means a lot to me. As much as I love the luxury world that we play in, I know it’s not attainable for everyone.

Finally, the duo briefly reference the New York Times‘ recent exploration of fashion’s underwhelming diversity deliveries following a year of strife and heartache. “We saw what happened last year with George Floyd, and the series of black boxes on social media that followed,” Jean-Raymond begins. “What do you think about how corporate America has responded to issues of race?”

“That’s a fully loaded question!” Lorenzo laughs, before delving deeper into the question.

What we’re doing is breaking the mental barriers of how people see us, so that we can open more doors for those behind us. … As a culture, we’ve been responsible for a lot of positive influences, but have never been able to participate in the value they create. How do we start to change that? How do we allow the people who are creating the value to participate in what’s being taken home from that value? These questions have great potential to weigh on someone in positions like mine or yours. Our focus is on transforming lives in a positive way, through product, through messaging, through storytelling, and not falling into a corporate transactional structure. We already get hit for what our stuff costs, which doesn’t bother me because I know what it costs to make. I know how much love I put into it. I’m standing in truth, and I wear that on my sleeve, when I walk into any room, any meeting, through any door.

As Lorenzo develops his vision of basketball with adidas, his ESSENTIALS sub-label turned its attention to a wholly different sport: tennis.

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