Fashion mogul Jerry Lorenzo returns to ‘the Hill’

Jerry Lorenzo shares his career journey with students in Lee Hall.
Photo Courtesy: Sydney Dorsey-Rencher

FAMU recently hosted its annual Black History Month Conversation, featuring alumnus and founder of the renowned fashion brand Fear of God, Jerry Lorenzo. The event took place on Tuesday, February 20, at the Lee Hall auditorium, drawing a large crowd of eager FAMU students.

Dr. Shawnta Friday-Stroud, Dean of the School of Business and Industry and Lorenzo’s former professor, moderated the conversation. As Lorenzo shared insights into his journey to prominence in the fashion industry, students were captivated by his story of determination and purpose.

One of the key highlights of the conversation was Lorenzo’s emphasis on pursuing his divine purpose rather than merely following his passion. He attributed his success to self-awareness and a clear vision of his goals, stating that he does not view anyone or any other brand as his competition.

“When you come into this opportunity with a capped potential of wanting to get a degree and at the very least, getting a job afterward is a capped future,” Lorenzo said.

“What you’re really chasing is something uncapped and you can only find that within your gift.”

Lorenzo also addressed the stereotypical boundaries placed on street fashion, challenging the notion that luxury and street style are mutually exclusive. By prioritizing quality while remaining true to the aesthetics of streetwear, he broke barriers and highlighted the racial biases associated with fashion norms.

“In my humility, I would say we broke through from a streetwear perspective. But in my blackness I would say it’s an attempt to call me a rapper and not an artist,” Lorenzo said.

“My real fight is for us to be able to say, ‘luxury’ and for us to not only support black but to inspire and aspire to something black.”

Furthermore, Lorenzo spoke candidly about his refusal to conform to European standards of fashion, advocating for the recognition and validation of black creators in an industry that historically marginalizes them. His faith played a significant role in shaping his brand, as evidenced by Fear of God’s name, which reflects Lorenzo’s personal convictions.

“There’s so many times where us as black creators will go to a European designer or a European fashion house and put something on that says ‘luxury’ or some type of validation but, we won’t do that for us,” Lorenzo said.

“This is one of the reasons why we did our first ever fashion show at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles because, I thought ‘why do we always have to go over there [Europe] for validation and to say this is luxury when all this inspiration comes from here.”

The conversation resonated deeply with students, particularly aspiring entrepreneurs and designers, who found inspiration in Lorenzo’s advice to uphold their worth and refuse to settle for anything less. Many attendees were moved by his emphasis on maintaining strong family bonds and staying true to one’s faith while pursuing one’s dreams.

Klaire Lathan, a junior Graphic Design major, said she resonated with Lorenzo’s takes on validation and knowing one’s potential.

“I needed to hear that social media isn’t real, especially as a business owner, and aspiring model. It’s very important when getting your name out there but, comparing yourself to other brands doesn’t help,” Lathan said.

“When Lorenzo talked about ‘chasing a feeling’ it affected me because I identify a lot with the statement. I think it’s important to do what you love and find different avenues so that you can end up making a career out of what may seem impossible.”

As FAMU continues to celebrate Black History Month, events like the Black History Month Conversation serve as a platform for empowerment and inspiration for students, fostering a sense of pride in their heritage and potential for success in their chosen fields.