Fear of God Founder and FAMU Alum Jerry Lorenzo Shares Wisdom and Insights During Black History Month Conversation

February 24, 2024
BHMC Jerry Lorenzo and Shawnta Friday-Stroud
Fear of God Founder and FAMU Alum Jerry Lorenzo Shares Wisdom and Insights During Black History Month Conversation

Dean Shawnta Friday-Stroud interviews Fear of God founder Jerry Lorenzo during the FAMU 2024 Black History Month Conversation at Lee Hall Auditorium. (Credit: Ernest Nelfrard.)

Jerry Lorenzo, founder of the high-end Fear of God designer label, shared professional and personal insights of his journey from a varsity baseball player to the pantheons of global fashion during a riveting two and a half hour Florida A&M University Black History Month Conversation on Tuesday.

Sharing the stage with School of Business and Industry Dean Shawnta Friday-Stroud, Ph.D., who served as the interviewer, Lorenzo answered questions about his process, his inspiration, his journey, social media, the competition, and other topics.

BHM Conversation with Lorenzo and Friday-Stroud

The conversation was supposed to last an hour but stretched into two and a half hours because of interest from the young, mostly male audience. (Credit: Ernest Nelfrard)


Lorenzo, son of MLB player and manager Jerry Manuel, spoke about quitting baseball after his junior year at FAMU and finding his love for fashion working retail at the GAP in Tallahassee. After he earned a Master of Business Administration at Chicago Loyola University, he worked in retail, sports management, the Los Angeles Dodgers front office and being a party organizer before launching his trendsetting fashion label. In 2013, Lorenzo founded Fear of God, a luxury house that comprises Fear of God, Fear of God ESSENTIALS, and Fear of God Athletics.

Fear of God and Lorenzo have partnered with brands such as Ermenegildo Zegna, Birkenstock, New Era, Nike, Adidas, and Vans. He has collaborated on wardrobe and tour merchandise for Kanye West, Jay Z, Justin Bieber, Janet Jackson, Kendrick Lamar, John Mayer, Dave Chappelle and ‘Bob Marley: One Love.’

Fear of God’s 7th Collection was featured within the Met Gala: Costume Institute’s In America: A Lexicon of Fashion exhibition. In 2023, he debuted Fear of God’s first-ever fashion show at the historic Hollywood Bowl in his hometown, Los Angeles.

Lorenzo was scheduled to answer questions for an hour, but when the event opened for audience questions, dozens of young men lined up behind the two microphones. In the end, Lorenzo responded to their questions for another hour and a half.

Among those who stayed until the end was Jordan Cumberbatch, a health science scholar.

“Fear of God is one of my favorite brands,” said Cumberbatch, as students and staff took photos with Lorenzo on stage following the event. “Knowing he came from FAMU makes me want to support him even more and knowing he makes clothes to fit people like us.”

Kenneth Jones, a fourth-year business administration student from Long Island, New York, attended the event because Lorenzo has been an inspiration to his dream as an artist and a photographer.

“I feel his art is very unique in the sense and feel of how he presents it,” said Jones. “He gave a lot of information that a lot of younger Black men and even women could listen to and take heed from because a lot of us are still trying to figure out our paths.”

Highlights of Lorenzo’s Black History Month Conversation

Quitting Baseball

I was really at peace with that decision. I had given all I had to the game and could make the next decision for my life. I gave everything to my retail job. I remember how hard I worked on the fall. I realized a different gift. I found out my gift wasn’t baseball. You don’t get a chance to find that gift unless you put everything you find in front of you.

SBI Dean Shawnta Friday-Stroud interviewed Lorenzo during the Black History Month Conversation. (Credit:Glenn Beil)


Classrooms Lessons That Help With Running a Business

Unfortunately, again it’s not so much of those business tools or subjects that I’m leaning on now with Fear of God. It’s the process of pushing yourself beyond what you think you’re capable of is where you find yourself. I truly believe the way you do one thing is the way you do all things. I think it’s important that the habits you put in place today and the way that you go about the assignments that you’re getting from your professors. You’re not getting graded against your classmates. You’re getting graded against your potential and are you giving everything that you can to that assignment.

I can remember being in those seats and potentially looking at someone hoping they are going to say something that can really help direct me or help guide me. The reality is there are no shortcuts. Nothing is by chance. Yes, everything is by His grace, but nothing is by chance. The only way that you get somewhere is not who you know, it’s do you know yourself. You can’t know yourself until you’ve given yourself to everything that’s in front of you.The way that I gave to everything I did informs what I do now.

What He Would Tell His Younger 18-Year-old Self

It’s going to be okay. I came to FAMU as a freshman in 1997. That year my dad had just won the World Series with the Marlins as a bench coach. Then in 1998, when I was going into my sophomore year, he got a job as one of the first Black managers in Major League Baseball history, managing the White Sox, and I’m just a student at FAMU. I’m thinking, I can never do anything like that. What am I going to do with my life? So, I was sitting in a tough spot here. I knew that one of the things my parents had always taught me is you got to be two times as good at whatever it is that you’re doing.

On Finding Your Gifts

One of the threads that has connected the past to what I’m doing today is how hard that I’ve gone against everything. You’re not going hard to be successful. You’re going hard to find your gift, to find your purpose. In your purpose is where you find your success, and your gift is where those things are found. But you can never really find those gifts if you don’t give yourself to the little things. And you’ve got to give yourself to those little things in order to ever recognize when the gift is in front of you. Once you start giving to it, it immediately gives back to you.

Validation as a Luxury Wear Designer

My real fight is for us to be able to say luxury and for us to be able to not want to support Black but to inspire and be aspired to something Black. So many times, I see where us as Blacks will go to a European designer or a European fashion house and put on something that says luxury for some type of validation, but we won’t do that same for us.

My fight is to say that we could do all things. I don’t even really want to be called luxury as much as I just want to be called a new thing. I want to be outside of your box of definition, and I think that’s what’s given us the permission to even be in the space because every time that we’re doing something, it’s a new thing.

Lorenzo receiving President's Award

Lorenzo receives President’s Leadership Award from COO/EVP Donald Palm. (Credit: Ernest Nelfrard.)


On Competitors

I don’t really have any competitors. My competition now is with my walk with God. My competition now is making sure that my character is at a place that can protect the gifts that He’s given me, and so I know that the vision He’s given me is the vision that He’s only given me. I know He hasn’t given this vision to anybody else and so my responsibility is to be responsible to that vision, and I say that with all humility. As soon as I start looking left and right is when I get lost. As soon as I start looking at the market too deeply because without start letting the wrong thing direct me.

You are not trying to compete head-to-head with anybody else because you’re not looking left and right trying to be blindsided by them; you’re looking and staying focused on what it is that you’re trying to do.

Finding your gift and finding your purpose because once you find that there’s no competition. You’ve already found what it is you’ve been called to do, and you just got to focus on the one that created you.

On Social Media

Today with social media, people can get so sidetracked with what others say. I’m 46. I just turned off my comments at the beginning of this year. I can’t post a new collection and then look and say I’m driven by conviction and not opinion and then I’m looking to see what you have to say and whether it’s good or bad. It’s like making me feel a certain way. Just having an awareness of how much that can have an effect on you is key.  Obviously, we’re blessed to start a brand with the power of social media, but I believe we’ve kind of graduated beyond that. If our brand even takes a hit because I’m not commenting, then so be it.

 I look at my page, and there is always somebody hating. I’m human and those things do have an effect on me, and the praise has an effect on you. When you begin to look into the wrong places for praise or anything negative, you’re looking to the wrong places for validation and then that becomes what guides you.

Pitfalls of Social Media

I think the pitfalls of social media is that it’s just not real. Those friends aren’t real, and the images that you see even from my campaign- you’re looking at the best of 30 images; from someone’s selfie, you’re looking at the best of like 100 pictures they took. It’s just like really understanding what it is; being able to take it for what it is but not believing that is the truth of what things are and understanding that it’s a tool and being able to use the tool and not let the tool use you is really important.

Staying Grounded

You’re constantly evolving and you’re constantly trying to become the best version of yourself. I was sober for like six and a half years. Then the last two years, the brands started taking off and pressures came, and different things came, and I reached back to some bad habits, and I had to reset. It’s a constant evolution of yourself. You think you have something beat and now you’re at a different level in your life where you’re realizing you may not be, because every decision that you make is now on a big decision, and you you’ve got to mature to a level where you’re okay with that.

Biggest Inspiration

My biggest inspiration is love. So hard because we love something so hard you know it’s not the selfish thing it’s because we’re driven by the people who we love that we want to take care of them, want to make them happy. You want to make them proud; it’s all driven by love.

Click to watch the Black History Month Conversation