As an eighth Fear of God collection took to the runway, Jerry Lorenzo looked set to pick up where Kanye left off, revealing a long-awaited adidas X Fear of God athletics line. Image via @fearofgodathletics.

On Wednesday, 19 April 2023, Jerry Lorenzo’s Fear of God made its fashion show debut, showcasing a new design direction. As the embers of a waning Los Angeles sunshine disappeared below the horizon, moonlight descended on the iconic Hollywood Bowl, establishing the mood for the enigmatic combination of musical performance and high-end streetwear, serving as a manifesto for the future of the luxury label and giving fans a first look at a long-awaited project. 

Setting the scene for the decadent display, in front of a typically LA crowd of A-listers and fashion types, was Morden-born musician Sampha. Lorenzo continued to explore the intersection of Californian luxury streetwear and menswear by merging fashion and music, where the audience heard Nina Simone’s cover of “Strange Fruit”. Amongst the crowd, many of whom arrived fresh from Coachella, was disgraced rapper Kanye West, who donned a not-so-low-key full-face mask as he took to his stage-side seat. Later in the night, a video widely shared on social media showed West dancing to his track “Feel the Love”, performed by Pusha T, ensuring his presence was anything but subtle. Lorenzo is one of a few to have remained a public supporter of Ye following his anti-semitic outbursts last year. 

First emerging in 2013, Fear of God was known for designing T-shirts, flannels and tank tops using exaggerated proportions, with many passing these now-infamous designs off as a trend. Now presenting its eighth collection, the label has manoeuvred into the luxury spotlight, turning sceptics into superfans with an energetic fusion of streetwear and high-end fashion. 

While demand for Fear of God ESSENTIALS has sky-rocketed, thanks in part to our post-lockdown yearning for comfort, fans were treated to a more refined approach to luxury. While still more than capable of designing a premium hoodie, Lorenzo incorporated relaxed suiting using padded shoulders to enclave models in flowing coats in muted colours, building on Fear of God’s typical silhouettes where slim trousers tapered signature boxy looks.

As he danced to his own songs, it appeared West was watching a sheet from his playbook unfold before him in a runway show that mirrored Yeezy Season Three. Taking place in Madison Square Garden, West performed with Pusha T, surrounded by Vic Mensa and the late Virgil Abloh to debut his third apparel collaboration to 20,000 eager-eyed fans in 2016. 

Lorenzo has worked with Kanye on some of the rapper’s career highlights, including the acclaimed Yeezus tour on the recommendation of Virgil Abloh. As reported by Complex in an interview with Kerwin Frost, the Fear of God designer describes working with Kanye at APC and how the rapper reinforced his vision for the brand. While, for the most part, the fashion community has turned its back on Ye, in a now-deleted Instagram post, Lorenzo appeared to show his support for West, calling for his return to adidas in the statement, “Ye… Adi ain’t the same without you”. 

In October 2022, adidas terminated its contract with Ye following a string of anti-semitic remarks and allegiances to members of the far right. This decision has left the German sportswear brand at risk of losing 700 million Euros, as announced by CEO Bjørn Gulden, the first decline in profits in 31 years. While adidas has shifted its focus to heritage sneakers, the demand for more technical styles remains. Without Yeezy, adidas has a huge gap to fill, and while Lorenzo’s partnership with the sportswear brand has been ongoing, could it now be the game-changer needed to fill the void Ye’s early departure created? 

Lorenzo is no stranger to collaboration, having worked with Nike on a fashionable fusion of technology and style. His latest co-branded adidas sneakers offers more of the same, dressed in a neutral palette with minimal branding. At first glance, Fear of God Athletics could easily slot into the adidas Yeezy line, appearing to draw on the design influence of the original Yeezy Boost 750, released in 2015, crafting a unique high-top silhouette from premium suede, for a collection of neutral colourways.

A collaboration between Lorenzo and adidas is is bound to make noise. With a warm reception from the start, FoG Athletics looks set to rival some of the industry’s biggest collaborations, such as Travis Scott and Nike SB, whose Nike Dunk Low made headlines and sold out fast. The Cactus Jack star has also worked on a series of Air Jordans, with a signature inverted Swoosh.

The chances of sidelined Kanye and adidas rekindling a creative partnership are extremely slim, and with a current lack of co-branded technical footwear, FoG Athletics could be the answer to the Three Stripes’ problems. With an elevated design display that has captured the attention of fashion editors worldwide, Jerry Lorenzo’s faith-driven brand is brimming with potential. 

The adidas x Fear of God athletics collab has no set release date, but is set to reach consumers in the second half of 2023 according to Business of Fashion.