The Most Creative People in business 2017
In fall 2016, sneakerheads went wild for a pair of sleek $1,095 Desert Storm–inspired high-tops created by Jerry Lorenzo. The L.A.-based designer behind a four-year-old line of high-end, masculine streetwear—which has earned the approval of Kanye West, Rihanna, and Travis Scott—also created the merchandise for Justin Bieber’s 2016 Purpose tour, which immediately sold out at pop-up shops across the country.
How do you describe your aesthetic? "Some guys, when they start buying luxury [fashion], start to dress less and less like themselves. I’m trying to make a guy feel comfortable, to keep him the same dude."
You weren’t trained as a shoe designer. How did you get started with your now-iconic military sneakerboot? "I asked my buddy [luxury sneaker designer] Jon Buscemi whether he had time to work with me. He said, “I don’t, but here’s the developer that you need to talk to.” That was the assist of a lifetime. I met with the developer in Italy with a sketch of the shoe I wanted to make. A year and a half later, we had a shoe on the market."
You’ve chosen not to take any external investment, even though you’ve had many opportunities to do so. Why? "I don’t have any investors or partners to answer to. There are no goals to meet. Everything we do is based on our conviction. But that also means that every collection is a risk. And if we miss the target, we’ve leveraged our whole company. Every collection could be the end of the brand if it’s not successful. But believing in myself is all I really have. So I’m just constantly fueling myself and improving the products, [which are not] based on trend, but my own life experiences."
The name of your brand is not meant to be ironic, but to reflect your Christian faith. How so? "One day I was reading a devotion that talked about clouds and darkness around the kingdom of God. For the first time in my mind, God was really cool: dark, but not in a demonic way, just that he had layers and depth to him—the kind of figure who is beyond our understanding. When you’re in a relationship or at peace with God, there’s a fear that’s a reverence."
In October 2016, you drove through L.A.’s Skid Row handing out sneakers from your collection to the homeless, even though they were supposed to be for influencers and celebrities. What made you do that? "I felt like, if I’m in a position to give, how dare I give to someone who doesn’t need it? It was necessary to record and share that. If [people] take that as self-promoting, that’s okay. I know my own mission. I thought that more people would be encouraged to go do something good."