The unlikely message behind one of America’s hippest fashion brands
Jerry Lorenzo's fashion label encapsulates the word "cool". Worn by celebrities like Kanye West, Justin Bieber, Kendall Jenner and Gigi Hadid, and described as "a teenager's dream back to school wardrobe (that others can love too)", the pieces perfectly marry comfort and style.
One would not expect the man behind one of LA's hottest menswear brands to be a father with no formal fashion training and no reservations when it comes to talking about Jesus.
Jerry started the label, called Fear of God, back in 2012 when he was working as a manager for professional athletes and noticed a gap in the menswear market.
"What makes Fear of God cool is that it taps into the nostalgia guys ... have for the '80s and '90s," explained GQ style writer Jake Woolf. "He's taking the touchstones of that era—stonewashed denim, plaid, slightly looser fits, awesome rock band tees—and setting them against a 2016 backdrop where streetwear, high-fashion, and 'middle America' all have collided."
But it is about more than "coolness".
"I wanted to do something that also left you with a greater purpose or inspired you some other way besides clothes," Jerry says.
"Growing up, God and Christianity had always seemed kinda light ... you knew your church friends were never really as cool as the cool kids at school," he tells Christianity Today.
Who I am is identified in Whose I amBut he read the devotional My Utmost For His Highest, which was "talking about dark clouds surrounding the kingdom of God, and I saw the fear of God as reverence for this figure who was so layered and deep that He seems so dark to us. For the first time, I saw God as this really cool character".
"This fear of God is not one that cripples you, it's simply a fear of not knowing, and thus going out to find the answers. God is all knowing, but He is greater than any obstacle in your way, and He is on your side," Lorenzo told GQ.
"Even in times that are beyond your understanding, there's a peace in knowing there is a God that is bigger and more all-knowing than not only you, but anyone."
In the past, Jerry has been familiar with coolness in the more traditional sense of the word— the one that involved alcohol and partying and the club scene.
But he says after "coming to the end of himself" he moved away from the party lifestyle and the alcohol and instead focused on his relationship with God, which allowed him to be more open about his faith.
"I love God so much that I don't want to do things that hurt my relationship with Him anymore," he says. "Yes, those are things that I did, but who I am is identified in Whose I am, not who I was."
He says "whose" because Jerry considers himself a child of God, and credits Him for the brand's success— which is why he hopes to glorify Him through it in return.
"If God's given you a gift, you want to do whatever you can to honour Him through that," he says, "and I guess I have this gift [for] fashion.
"I don't take 400,000 kids following me on Instagram for granted. This platform is huge now, so I have to represent for Who I know put me here, and why He put me here," Jerry said.
"The bigger Fear of God gets, the more I realise that it's God's—and that this could be any platform," he said. "It doesn't have to be clothing. It could be anything. This is just a platform for Him to get glory.
"I could never imagine myself starting a clothing line and not having it built on this foundation," he adds. "At the end of the day, these are just fabrics. If you really wanna know what the fear of God is about, it's a power that can change your life."
To Jerry, this is what true coolness means: "If you love God and you put other people before you, that's beyond cool. Cool doesn't compare to that. What I'm doing with Fear of God is trying to show people that you can do what you're passionate about and love God. Whether it's cool to people or not isn't really relevant."•