Jerry Lorenzo’s departure feels vaguely familiar to Kanye West’s departure in 2013.
As we know, Jerry Lorenzo, announced his partnership with adidas for his Fear of God: Athletics division of his high-end relaxed luxury brand.
There’s been a lot of discussion about how Nike treats their cultural black brand ambassadors and creative directors since Jerry Lorenzo’s departure from the sneaker brand. It’s almost comparable to the breakdown that happened with Kanye West over his Nike collaboration regarding percentages and royalties of sneaker re-sells. As someone who wanted the Nike Air Yeezy II, more than any sneaker released in my life (and still do) it was confusing to me as to why Nike didn’t want to honor Kanye’s wishes with a percentage in the sells for a sneaker he designed. Even as a Chicago native, I wanted Nike Air Yeezy II more than I’ve ever wanted Jordans.
Jerry Lorenzo went to Clubhouse when the news broke to discuss what had happened between Nike’s Fear of God’s development team and why he’s deciding to leave:
“A year ago today, I was supposed to be on a flight to Portland and I gave them my 5 to 10 year plan and how do we take what we’ve built together and build Fear of God: Basketball / Performance before we landed on “Athletics”What seemed that they were sold on it [Nike] said ‘Hey, can you get up to campus? We’d like to present something to you long term.’ On my way home from work, they asked can you hop on a call really quickly, they shared unfortunately they don’t see the future of the relationship going the way they saw it. Lorenzo continued to say “Nike wasn’t so much saying we’re not going to do it, we’re just not going to do it right now” And so we’re going to sign your sister to a long-term deal and leave you in question.”Jerry Lorenzo on Clubhouse
This moment reminded me of Kanye West’s departure to Adidas and how Nike finagled all of the designers close to Kanye at the time to use their influence to continue to sell sneakers using his ambiance. Curators like Riccardo Tisci who was designing tour merch for Kanye’s ‘Watch The Throne’ Tour, Don C (close friend to Kanye) who was designing for Jordan Brand, Virgil Abloh (infamously known for working with Kanye) who began creative directing for Nike, Olivier Rousteing (Balmain) made a collection with Nike after they claimed that they wanted to maintain ‘an athletic presence’ more than a ‘fashionable one’ but all of these collaborations were style-influenced picks from the tree of Kanye West.
Kanye also got the chance to get the royalties and the creative freedom he wanted with Adidas similar to what Jerry Lorenzo is currently dealing with right now.
“I said, ‘Well I need royalties.’ It’s not even like I have a joint venture. At least give me some royalties. Michael Jordan has 5 percent and that business is $2 billion. He makes a $100 million dollars a year off of 5 percent royalties. Nike told me, ‘We can’t give you royalties because you’re not a professional athlete.’ I told them, ‘I go to the Garden and play one-on-no one. I’m a performance athlete.’Kanye West — Hot 97 (2013)
We plan on supporting all the cultural creators including Beyoncé, Pharrell Williams, Jerry Lorenzo and the rest of the cultural powerhouse getting their worth at adidas.
Terrell Johnson is the Editor-in-Chief and Founder of SWGRUS.