By Michael Ashcraft —
Jerry Lorenzo was supposed to give his $100 sneakers to 100 influencers around the nation to promote the brand in October 2016, but instead he decided hand them out to the homeless on Skid Row in Los Angeles.
“I work in Downtown LA and we pass the homeless people sleeping in tents and sleeping bags as we come into work every day,” Jerry says on Fast Company. “We were in a position to give and were ignoring these people that are around us. I just told my staff, ‘We’re going to pack up all these shoes and clothing and give it to people who need it.’ If I’m in a position to give, how dare I give it to someone that doesn’t need it?”
Jerry’s charity that day totaled more than $10,000. But Jerry is a born-again Christian and understands that high-end fashion and fame are ephemeral; only what’s done for Jesus is eternal.
“I’m a Christian, and I love God with all my heart,” he says.
His brand — Fear of God, which he says is cool, not corny, because it counters a lot of dark, empty religious symbolism in fashion — produces street luxury garments that have caught the eye of Kanye West, Rihanna, Kendall Jenner, Justin Bieber and Travis Scott. His Desert Storm-inspired tennies sold for $1,100.
“The idea for my brand came one day when I was reading a devotion that talked about clouds and darkness around the Kingdom of God. It talked about the layers to Him. For the first time in my mind, God was really cool. He was a dark image in my mind, not in a demonic way, just dark in terms of the layers and depth to him — the kind of figure that is beyond our understanding.
“When you’re at peace with God, there’s a fear of God that’s a reverence. On the flip side, when you don’t know God, there’s a literal fear. I wanted my brand’s name to play on these two different meanings. If people dig deeper with this brand, they can find truth.”
Jerry Lorenzo came to Los Angeles to finish grad school. Being out from under his parents’ covering, he embarked on a journey of self-discovery, ditched his Christian upbringing and sampled the party life in Hollywood. He made lots of friends and supplemented his own income by staging his own parties. At the time, there were either black/ hip hop scenes or white/techno. Jerry fused the two and created his own space.
“It was through the night life that I really began to understand the power of my own influence here in Los Angeles,” he says on a “Now with Natalie” video on the Hillsong YouTube channel. “I had the ability to get people out of their homes five nights a week. I had the ability to influence fashion trends. I saw that I would wear something and people would start to dress like me.”
After eight years in the party scene, he realized he could launch a successful fashion brand.
“I enjoyed the partying. It was fun,” Jerry admits. “Yes, I had my own battles with my convictions, but we are as much human as we are spirit. But as my faith started to grow, I realized that I was not only in the wrong circles but that I was the creator of this platform. I was bringing the alcohol sponsor and the women. It was a heavy realization.
“Being from a Christian home, you think you know what’s right and what’s wrong,” he says. “I thought I was doing a good job juggling the two. But it got to the point where God said, ‘That’s enough. I have something for you to do and you either do this or you live this other life.’”
His party scene was THE place to be seen in L.A. and have significance.
“But as I grew in Christ and grew spiritually, I realized how insignificant this platform was that we had made,” Jerry admits. “I was fearful that my personal significance would be tied up with something as empty to that.”
He was coming to the end of himself, squandering his resources in his own plan to the exclusion of God.
“I just fell on my face and realized that I can’t do anything without God and that He is the source of anything good and positive in my life,” he says. “If I needed anything, it was to seek Him and not promote myself. Once the blinders were off and I saw if for what it was, I knew that wasn’t the place for me.”
Inspired by friends who were clothing brand entrepreneurs, Jerry decided to launch his own self-funded products, garments that he wanted for himself. He wanted high-end comfortable.
“You don’t have to squeeze into a Hedi Slimane silhouette if that’s not really who you are,” he says. “You can get luxury and still be comfortable in an oversized hoodie and ripped up jeans.”
He pioneered extra long T-shirts made of drapery fabric, the use of titanium zippers, Japanese denim jackets
While he had a strong sense of style, he didn’t know the first thing about patterns and sewing, so he went to the Los Angeles garment district and learned by self-teaching. When he launched his Desert Storm high tops, he flew back and forth between Italy to consult with experts. Every project is self-financed. The success of one item funds the creation of another.
Jerry proves that you don’t have to stand behind a pulpit to serve God. Whether you cook or do carpentry, sew or engineer, you can glorify God through what you do.
“Purpose is a thread you can tie through a lot of different things,” he says. “If I was making clothes just to make cool clothes, I wouldn’t have the drive to do it the way that we do it. I’m convicted of who my Savior is and why I’m here. I hope my legacy is not clothing. I like clothes but that’s real empty if that’s all I do.”
If you want to know more about a personal relationship with God, go here
To support his hobby of Christian journalism, Michael Ashcraft sells a bamboo steamer on Amazon.