Dressing The Breakfast Club with Jerry Lorenzo

Ahead of the inaugural Fear of God x Zegna collaboration, we caught up with Jerry Lorenzo to talk The Breakfast Club, new luxury, and why the freedom to self curate has never been more important.

Dressing The Breakfast Club with Jerry Lorenzo - Jerry Lorenzo in LA wearing FoG x Zegna
"Dear Mr. Vernon, We accept the fact that we had to sacrifice a whole Saturday in detention for whatever it was we did wrong. But we think you're crazy to make us write an essay telling you who we think we are. What do you care? You see us as you want to see us - in the simplest terms, in the most convenient definitions. You see us as a brain, an athlete, a basket case, a princess, and a criminal."

Do you recognise these words? This is the iconic monologue which opens (and closes) John Hughes' cinematic masterwork, 'The Breakfast Club.' A narrative bookend which strikes to the very heart of what it means to feel misunderstood or pigeon-holed by the people around you. A brat pack-era 'fuck you' to the man, which says 'we are each all of these things and more.' A poignant message just as relevant now - 35 years on - as it was at the time. An endless source of inspiration for design renegade, Jerry Lorenzo of Fear of God - a label at the forefront of defining the modern luxury agenda and recalibrating the antiquated fashion system to make space for the intricacies of individuality which Hughes explored in his work.

At first tell, the story of Jerry Lorenzo and Alessandro Sartori of Zegna coming together to create a collaborative collection felt like a subplot from the movie itself. Two polarised voices, traditionally kept apart by the establishment, joining forces and finding common ground. Two creative minds, working together to establish a new framework for contemporary luxury in an era where self-curation and the ability to lead multi-faceted lives full of contradictions has become commonplace.

Since launching Fear of God in 2013, Jerry Lorenzo has carved a niche for himself at the intersection of timelessness, sustainability, and shifting perceptions of where streetwear and luxury collide. Casting aside the traditional fashion calendar, seven years in, Fear of God is only on collection number 7: a beacon of hope that success can exist at a more sustainable pace if the vision and quality are there. Producing an elegant and sophisticated expression of streetwear and, in turn, redefining where it sits and how it is perceived, perhaps no creative director is better suited (pardon the pun) to bridging the longstanding divide between sartorialism and sweatpants, and in doing so proposing a new era of dress which every member of The Breakfast Club can buy into.

Catching up over Zoom in the weeks before the Fear of God x Zegna launch, END. dives deep with Jerry Lorenzo on mixing archetypes, breaking free of expectations, and designing a new silhouette for a new generation with Alessandro Sartori.

Dressing The Breakfast Club with Jerry Lorenzo - Fear of God x Zegna Look Book
Dressing The Breakfast Club with Jerry Lorenzo - Fear of God x Zegna Look Book

First off, tell us a bit about how the relationship with Zegna and Alessandro Sartori came about?

I met Alessandro in Milan through mutual friends. One conversation led to the next and the entire process was pretty organic. The purpose of us meeting wasn’t necessarily a collaboration, it was just friends meeting new friends and one thing led to another. We kind of connected instantly and shared similar visions for what was missing in the marketplace and felt that putting our minds together we could create something new that could help to redirect men’s fashion.

Alessandro is working under the codes of a house with more than a century of history and you’re at the helm of one of the world’s most revered young brands; building a history and a legacy of your own in real-time. How did the dynamic of honouring the patrimony of Zegna and staying true to the contemporary resonance of FoG operate?

That’s the million-dollar question really – how do you honour 100 years of experience and craftsmanship and point of view but then propose something new within those boundaries? It was about proposing something which could catapult the Zegna house into the future in a sense. Some of the ideas and some of the propositions from a FoG perspective were obviously different from how they had traditionally been constructing and tailoring garments. I think we provided a full picture and framework for understanding a more youthful approach to tailoring that isn’t simply ‘oversized’ but is just as carefully considered as something which close-fitting. We wanted to create a new, relaxed silhouette which is just as considered as something that that fits perfectly to your body; a new silhouette for a new generation.

Did it come together organically or was it challenging from a design standpoint to strike the right balance between the two perspectives?

I think anything great will present some type of challenge. We knew where we wanted to go with the collection and we were working together to establish exactly what that would look like, but because we shared that focus of what we wanted to achieve those challenges were easy to overcome. We didn’t compromise; the challenges the project presented just kept pushing us to land in a better place.

Dressing The Breakfast Club with Jerry Lorenzo - Jerry Lorenzo in LA wearing FoG x Zegna
That was the purpose of us coming together: to tell a story that required both points of view. More than a collaboration, this is a meeting of the minds.

Fear of God for Zegna feels like a revisitation to the true spirit of collaboration: when two distinct voices come together to learn from one another in the pursuit of creating something truly unique that neither party would have produced solo. What does the opportunity to collaborate mean to you as an artist?

It means exactly that. It’s an opportunity to leverage both of our points of view; our histories; our resources to tell a story that we can’t tell on our own. That was the purpose of us coming together: to tell a story that required both points of view and is much more substantive than two logos slapped together. More than a collaboration this is really a meeting of the minds.

There’s an undeniable harmony at play in the collection. A perfect balance of old and new: the Italian traditionalism of Zegna and the new-age, non-conformist luxury of Fear of God. Did you go into design and development with the intention of creating something timeless, or was it the natural by-product of colliding these two schools of thought?

I’d like to think that everything we’ve done to date with FoG is timeless. Our approach to design has always been a timeless approach. The last collection we put out was September of 2018 and our next collection is coming out late summer 2020. That’s almost two years. We’re not doing it on calendar, we only put out collections when we feel the time is right. We’re trying to approach luxury in a sustainable, timeless way by putting out pieces that we feel are going to last in your closet for a long time. Hopefully the Zegna exercise was just about reinforcing that ideal: a timeless point of view that lives outwith hype culture.

Dressing The Breakfast Club with Jerry Lorenzo - Fear of God x Zegna Look Book
Dressing The Breakfast Club with Jerry Lorenzo - Fear of God x Zegna Look Book

This is new luxury, pure and simple. Amidst a global push towards a more sustainable and circular industry, how do you imbue a garment or collection with the staying power to encourage a buy-less-buy-better mindset, particularly with a younger audience who have been raised on hype and newness?

I think selfishly I just put myself at the forefront of our research and development. I’m betting on myself and the things that I like and putting my faith in the belief that my audience is looking for the same thing. I enjoy a brand-new sneaker. I enjoy a loud piece here and there. For the most part, though, I want my closet to be something that doesn’t require much thought; to be made up of pieces which offer me easy solutions to getting dressed each day. I like to go in and grab the same sweats every day and my favourite vintage t-shirt and I'm good to go, so every piece we create has that same ethos of being something foundational you can build on top of. We’re constantly focused on developing and designing and proposing foundational pieces which can sit alongside hype, but that on their own are sustainable and designed to last.

As a self-taught designer, you stand out as an inspiration and a beacon of hope to so many (particularly as the cost of a traditional fashion education continues to surge), do you think there’s a certain power or freedom in being self-taught? Does it help you feel free to exist out with the rules or traditional processes which feel as though they're falling behind the customer?

Oh yeah – 100%. The tools and knowledge I’m gaining inform how I run the business, but there’s definitely an ignorance to how things are done that allow me to operate with a little bit more unchained creativity. The way that we approach and find solutions is very much an unorthodox process and I think not having formal schooling or training has really given me an edge. It’s allowed me to create from a freer space. Nothing against schooling and understanding the technical aspects of the trade, but I think not understanding a lot of those things has put me in a really good position to dream freely, I guess. I never subscribe to the calendar as a designer, but even as a consumer I don’t shop on calendar. If I need a new pair of jeans, I go get a pair of jeans. If I want a new coat, I’ll get a new coat even if it’s the middle of summer. My focus is on creating pieces people want. Not creating pieces based on season or based on trend or any of these other ephemeral ideas which are constantly changing.

Dressing The Breakfast Club with Jerry Lorenzo - Jerry Lorenzo in LA wearing FoG x Zegna
You don’t have to live in this prison of someone else’s idea of who you are. You could be wearing a blazer with a pair of sweats but you’re still speaking sophistication; you’re still speaking easiness and comfort.

The collection was unveiled back in March and the entire global landscape has markedly changed since then. You spoke to Highsnobiety about the idea of adaptation and how you find that boundaries or limitations are where true creativity thrives, which I thought was an incredible outlook on a pretty bleak year. How did your plans for the collection and its rollout shift amidst everything that’s happened?

I don’t know that it’s shifted too much. There’s been some physical ideas – environments, retail experiences – that we’ve had to reconceptualise. But as far as delivery time and those elements we’re pretty much on schedule. Again, what we’re proposing with Zegna is timeless and so I don’t feel like it’s a trend that needs to be bought and worn immediately; it could be bought six months or a year from now and it wouldn’t matter. That was the hope when creating this collection, to create something that transcends time. Whether we’re impacted by COVID or whether we’re impacted by social injustice or other important things that are happening in the world, I feel like it’s sustainable and we’ve been able to manage the hurdles because we’re offering honest product. As soon as we step outside of what we believe is honestly missing from the market, that’s when we’d be in trouble battling these things I think. That’s a different strategic game that we just don’t play at Fear of God and it’s one I’ve never been good at anyhow.

You’ve cited The Breakfast Club as a point of inspiration for FoG (in particular the loveable rogue, John Bender). It feels like this collection reflects the multi-faceted nature of every individual which is what makes The Breakfast Club as relevant today as it ever has been. Each of us is a brain, an athlete, a basket case, a princess, and a criminal; we’re allowed to be more than one thing, we don’t need to pick between an Italian suit, or a pair of sweats made in downtown LA. Do you feel like you’re defining a new standard of dress for the 2020s that champions complete fluidity between these different archetypes?

100% - we pull inspiration from all types of archetypes from a Wall St businessman to a high school athlete. That’s exactly it – you don’t have to live in this prison of someone else’s idea of who you are and it’s okay to mix all of these things together in a seamless way and still say one thing. You could be wearing a blazer with a pair of sweats but you’re still speaking sophistication; you’re still speaking easiness and comfort. I think those are the key boxes that we’re always trying to check. Is it elegant? Is it sophisticated? Is it easy and comfortable and functional? When everything we’ve created tick those boxes it’s easy to wear together and it’s easy to mix and match and we’ve used a timeless colour palette and series of shapes so it’s all about freedom.

Dressing The Breakfast Club with Jerry Lorenzo - Jerry Lorenzo in LA wearing FoG x Zegna

You’ve said previously that there is something about living in LA that is luxury; the space, the natural environment, the pace of life. What did you mean by that, and how has it played into the collection with Zegna’s strident Milanese sensibility?

I guess I say LA feels like luxury because it’s not as constrained as other metropolitan fashion cities like New York or Milan. These places are more based on a 9-5, whereas LA it just feels like we move at our own pace. It feels most luxurious. It’s not the same hustle and bustle you find in other big cities. It’s not even a case of slow versus fast because the hustle is just as prominent. I just like the luxury. It opens up opportunities for different ways you can present yourself with fashion. I can go to a meeting here in shorts and not feel crazy and go straight to workout afterwards. Obviously there’s an art to presenting yourself in that way and still being sophisticated, but I think the landscape in LA really allows for what we're doing with this collection.

Do you think we'll see a follow-up collection from FoG and Zegna?

We’re in talks right now. I think that’s maybe the one thing that might be an effect on COVID-19. Right now, it’s a little tough with the travel restrictions. So much of what I do is hands-on and it’s impossible for me to do a follow up collection via zoom. We’re definitely working towards that and we’re very happy with what we’ve created together and are excited to continue to work together. How that materialises is still to be determined.

"Dear Mr. Vernon, we accept the fact that we had to sacrifice a whole Saturday in detention for whatever it was we did wrong. But we think you're crazy to make us write an essay telling you who we think we are. You see us as you want to see us - in the simplest terms, in the most convenient definitions. But what we found out is that each one of us is a brain, and an athlete, and a basket case, and a princess, and a criminal. Does that answer your question? Sincerely yours, The Breakfast Club."
writerEuan Smart
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