LORENZO’S FEAR OF GOD FOCUSES ON STORYTELLING, CONSISTENT BRANDING, AND BUILDING A GREAT PRODUCT
By James Sebastien
Fear of God, an independent American luxury fashion label, sporadically posts on social media these days, despite having 2 million followers on Instagram. Jerry Lorenzo, who founded Fear of God in 2013, posts more regularly on social media and maintains a similar motif of imagery between his personal and company account.
The contemporary apparel company does not market traditionally, pushing user-generated content (UGC) and unboxings aside in favor of exclusivity and intrigue. Fear of God’s brand offers a high-end and sophisticated take on streetwear with oversized silhouettes, neutral color palettes, high-grade materials, and fine craftsmanship.
Fear of God has become popular among magazines, celebrities, and fashion influencers, and the brand has gained a loyal following among fans of high-end streetwear. In addition to its clothing collections, the brand also offers accessories such as shoes, hats, and bags.
Building the Fear of God Brand
Lorenzo’s fashion journey began in the stockroom at Diesel while pursuing his MBA at Loyola Marymount in Los Angeles, California. He continued to work in the stockroom for two years. Until one day, he got a shot to work the floor, to which he took advantage by selling over $5,000 of merchandise. The two years he spent working in the stockroom gave him insights into Diesel products and how they are designed to fit, and his knowledge propelled him to success as a salesperson.
However, Lorenzo wasn’t satisfied. He had a vision but not yet to design clothes. His goal was to become a sports agent. He began his career in the marketing department for the Los Angeles Dodgers. He later relocated to Chicago, where he found work at an agency that represented NFL and NBA star athletes.
Ultimately, Lorenzo found himself back in Los Angeles working as a party promoter and began using his initials in his branding, JL Nights. During his parties, he would gather with people who shared his taste in music and fashion. JL Nights grew organically, attracting huge crowds and many celebrities, primarily due to Lorenzo’s attention to detail and focus on creating a great atmosphere.
“The positive skill set was that I built a party that was so good I didn’t have to ask you to come out — you just wanted to be there,” Lorenzo said. “With clothing, I don’t ever want to have to promote or ask you to buy something. I want to make something that is so good you just want it. I hated to have to text people to come out to the party, so I did everything I could to make sure we had the best party. My focus has always been on the product.”
Lorenzo began his clothing brand, Fear of God, a name inspired by his religious background, with $14,000 and no prior industry experience. However, he was filled with a burning desire to make a lasting product for himself and his son. As his venture continued, so did his family when he and his wife Desiree welcomed twin daughters. The pressure was on, and the beginning was turbulent at best, but Lorenzo kept on his path.
“I never lost the conviction that I knew I had something to say or offer,” he said.
Lorenzo thinks of himself as a storyteller and creates a story around his product that consumers can, hopefully, understand.
“It’s a story of American expression,” he said. “My influences are wide-ranging, from ‘90s hip-hop to Tom Cruise in ‘Risky Business.’ The proposition with American luxury is that you are given the freedom to express yourself, and to be whatever you want. I give my customers encouragement to follow their instincts, always to be comfortable, appropriate, elegant no matter what they do.”
Finding Support and Success
In the weeks following the drop of Fear of God’s first collection, the late Virgil Abloh, a former Chicago acquaintance, fashion designer, and creative director of men’s wear for Louis Vuitton, took note and reached out to Lorenzo. Abloh invited Lorenzo to Atlantic City to showcase his collection to none other than Kanye West. Lorenzo and West went on to collaborate on several projects.
In Lorenzo’s words, the next three years were a whirlwind and challenging, but with West’s approval, he found greater faith in himself and his brand. Lorenzo and West eventually ended their partnership, and Fear of God continued to collaborate with celebrities like Justin Bieber and brands like Nike, New Era, and Adidas.
Lorenzo expanded Fear of God beyond his men’s line to include a women’s line inspired by his daughters. Fear of God also has subdivisions, including Essentials and the soon-to-be-released Athletics. Whenever Lorenzo drops a new collection, items almost instantaneously sell out.
The renowned designer continues to operate the privately-held luxury label with his unique business model, constantly innovating and developing the Fear of God brand while refusing to play by the rules or participate in fashion week.
Fear of God’s Marketing Strategies
With a background in marketing, one would think that Lorenzo’s approach to promoting Fear of God would be more traditional. Instead, the label’s marketing reflects his unorthodox views of fashion and branding. Fear of God often uses neutral, moody, and minimalistic imagery that is desaturated with a slight film grain to appeal to younger demographics.
The luxury streetwear label’s target audiences span across the Millennial and Gen Z populations providing them a glimpse into celebrity lifestyle at astonishing costs. However, Fear of God’s Essentials line allows fans of the brand to purchase items at a far more affordable price.
Lorenzo uses his personal, Fear of God, and Essentials Instagram accounts to market to his massive following, from events featuring Fear of God, like the Chris Rock and Dave Chappelle stand-up tour, to new collection drops. Instagram posts act almost as press releases for Lorenzo and his company, as reporters for online publications latch on to his feeds, releasing the latest drop news mere moments following notification alerts appearing across their phones.
Lorenzo defies the traditional way fashion labels are supposed to market with his direct-to-consumer e-commerce strategy, which fits into younger audiences’ preferred comfort level of purchasing products straight from companies. In addition to buying directly from Fear of God, consumers can purchase items from the label through SSence and Mr Porter.
The most effective marketing tools at Fear of God’s disposal are Lorenzo himself and his celebrity friends, who all act as living, breathing ads for the luxury fashion label and its subdivisions.
Lorenzo has no partners or investors, so he can market the label as he sees it and strategize with his team for each collection drop without worrying about a clear and direct vision for the future. Yet, despite the lack of a big-picture goal, Lorenzo and his Fear of God never cease to amaze their loyal consumers who fringe on cult status.
What’s next for the label? By best guess, not even Lorenzo knows for sure.