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So remember to all your listeners who don't listen to regular commercials, Hulu doesn't just have like a sports. I repeat, Hulu doesn't just have loved sports. Live TV player require restrictions on player lawnmower, Hulu, dotcom. Welcome back to the ETCs podcast, as always. I'm Eddie Gonzalez. I'm joined by my man, Kevin Durant. OK, you haven't played in a while, so I don't have too many superlatives or stats or anything to introduce you.
You're just Kevin today. Who's going on?
Everything is everything we've got, especially you guys are ready to talk about him. Yeah, man. Like, I want to get right to our guest. I thought of the best possible way I could describe him, to introduce him and to make sure I did him justice. And then I learned that he does not fancy himself a designer, which shocked me.
And I would love to labels. Yeah. Which I think is part of it, or at least did in a few years ago and in this interview. So we have with us the founder of Fear of God, a man who had just entered a very intriguing partnership with Adidas. They've been very vague about exactly what that is going to ask him a lot.
And one of the best dressed humans on earth is Lorenzo Zeri. Thank you so much for doing this. My shout out to your brother, shout out to my man to help put this all together for us. Happy to have you here, man. How you live. I'm amazing, man. Thank you for having me, man.
I was the best introduction.
I appreciate that. It looks like in your studio now, you're working on some super secret things we'll find out about in years from now or what's going on over there with you right now.
We're like in this kind of like temporary space, a little makeshift studio. We're building out our new home around the corner. So I'm like surrounded by racks of samples and vintage references from from from all over. Yeah, some of the stuff is current. You see behind me some of this stuff. Yeah. You won't see for another year or two.
Now, I found out that a lot of what you do is rooted in sports. Your brand started almost as a necessity for friend of yours, Matt Kemp. And in a lot of the inspiration comes from sports. Your father, you played Major League Baseball as a coach for a long while. Well, what was it about sports for you? Let's just start at the beginning of the journey, I guess. What was it about sports for you that grabbed you and still impacts you to this day?
I mean, I'm an old head man, so I graduated high school in ninety five. So, you know, all of. My aspirational figures that I looked up to, whether it was Jordan or whether it was I you know, they had a swag on the court off the court that I wanted to emulate as a kid, you know, I was never into fashion. In that way, what I cared about was creative directing know fashion houses I was more so concerned with, you know, what am I looking like leaving the house day to day?
You know, how do I look and feel like, Mike? You know what I mean?
And so, you know, and, you know, I guess and growing up in a baseball household, having access to see Delanoe Shields, you know, you could even talk about him often on the baseball field. He was the first player to, like, had the high socks. I think he was the first. I had the high top cleats and then even watch it watching him, like, comes at a ballpark. You know, he was, you know, super swagged out.
So know, I'm from that era where, you know, what is just a walk, like a ballplayer, you know, about ballplayers always have the swag. You know, it wasn't it wasn't today some of these fashion kids, too.
So when would you say is the first time you really got insufficent?
Around what age? Um, my first job in undergrad, I was at Florida A&M and I played baseball at a fan and worked at the Gap in the Mall after I graduated. And my dad was manager with the White Sox in Chicago. And our retail there was working at Diesel, kind of like in the heyday, like late 90s when diesel was really popping and then moved to L.A. early, two thousands to finish grad school, continue to work in like Dolce Gabbana.
But this was just kind of like my passion. And I just liked, you know, being on the retail sales floor and ended up going finish in grad school, got a job front office with the Dodgers doing like corporate sales, just trying to, like, follow my dad's footsteps. But I always worked retail, like on the weekends to, like, supplement my income. And then fast forward after that. When I started the brand, I had all this subconscious understanding of fashion just based on being on my feet retail and like hustling and and selling.
And then I always say, like, you know, every day we wake up and make a decision on how we want to present ourselves. You know, I think we're all experts and getting dressed. We got to do it every single day. And I think if you just pay attention to what you've been doing over the course of your life, there are some codes to that. There's some like there's a playbook that's consistent with that.
And so for me, this is really getting to understand, you know, what play of I've been running my whole life and this and then understanding that playing and now now that play lives through, you know, whether we go collaborate with Zenia through shooting or doing shooting and tailoring within our own mainlined collection. How does that playbook live and arrive at an accessible price point, the essentials and now further taken that that playbook to Adidas and, you know. Look at who changed the game over there.
Now, you you're completely self-taught, correct? So what is what is the nature of that when you get going and finally decide, like, OK, I actually want to make a business out of this. I actually want to commit myself to this full time what whatever kind of the steps you go through at that point.
And it's exactly kind of I mean, at the at the time I started the brand, I was throwing parties in L.A. and they do spend the most money were like my homies, Kirks and Castles, some of the cars from Supreme, the hundreds hundred. My boy, Nick Diamond. Mega who black girl. I'm like, man, like all these cats are brands, you know what I mean? And it just felt like.
An attainable profession and nothing, nothing against all my homies at his name, but I was like, man, if I could dress better than these cats, I should be able to be able to have a brand to, you know, and just at the time, I just have my son and I was really just trying to find a way to transition out of the nightlife.
And having thrown parties in L.A., I know I could get my pieces to the right people. I knew the right people, but it was just as tough or as easy as coming downtown to the garment district and learning how to make a long T-shirt, learning how to make a hoodie with zippers on the side, you know, cut off sleeves and how to make a pattern.
And, you know, I really was driven by the fact that I knew. I knew that what I wanted didn't exist, and I knew that if I wanted it, there had to be other people like me that were looking for the same things that didn't exist in retail. So blew through a lot of money. But I just had a burning conviction that, you know, what I wanted to propose to the world was not out there yet.
So when I was first introduced to, like, the concept of you, I guess my friend explained it to me like this is this is who everybody is dressing like right now. This is the guy. And this was about that era.
This was about, you know, that Saltierra in the hoodies with the zippers on the side and the whole nine and what.
But I say that to say you've had a great impact on fashion, on, you know, I guess what some people call street wear, but what people within our culture are looking like these days. When did you start to grasp that, like, look, I've put my thumbprint on this and and how did you feel when you when you finally realized that.
Oh, man, that's a good question and I appreciate the props and the question. I don't know that a lot of a lot of people are dressing like me.
But again, it just goes to that trying they're trying really hard, not just, you know, I think I think it's a product of, you know, growing up in a lot of different cities, being exposed to a lot of different cultures. Them being black, but, you know, of of of somewhat mixed race. So not all the way fully black. So some some black circles. I'm not black enough. Other circles I'm not you know, I'm not fitting in there.
And so how does my fashion allow me to move in and out of different circles and just be accepted for who I am? You know, and I think a lot of what I attempt to do or try to do with my fashion is to relieve somebody else of their preconceived notions of who I may be because of my skin color. When they see me, hopefully my my my fashion disarms them. You know what they may think about me not to say I don't want them to think anything good or bad.
I just don't want them to have any opinion, you know? And so what I'm trying to do with my fashion really is to create something that's sophisticated, elegant, but at the same time, like effortless know, it allows me to get up in the morning and go to the gym, go take a lunch meeting and come into the office all in the same outfit.
Um, the versatility of the L.A. lifestyle now that I'm living, you know, and so. So, yeah, I mean, I think again and I think it kind of goes back to what I was saying earlier, it's just like a lot of that is informed by, you know, athletes, you know, the the effortlessness of the athletes that we watch kind of coming up. I think it's changed a little bit now where the tunnel was turned into a runway to try really, really hard, but back in the 90s it was a little a little more effortless.
Do you believe now designers goals are to collab with big brands like Nike, Adidas? You think that's. Sort of an angle for designers at this point street where designers yeah, I mean, I think it depends on on on on the individual. You know, I think when when the opportunity to collaborate with Nike came, that is like a 12 year old dream come true. Right. You know, that's like that's like something that you said. You tell the 13 year old self that, you know, we look, we get to do man.
We get to make our own sneaker. I mean, I think I think why most designers to kind of answer your question of why sneakers mean so much is usually that's your first kind of into fashion, you know what I mean? Like when you start school shopping, you know, elementary school, junior high school is like, you know, let me get my kicks first, Mom, before we hit. You know, I'm saying, like, most important has always been your sneakers.
And so I think the Nike opportunity was like a 12 year old me like opportunity. And I think this new relationship now as we're entering into Adidas is more of kind of like how I see the future. You know, it's kind of like the modern day Jerry point of view. And so, yeah, to answer your question, I think we all love sneakers just because it's usually our first Litoral foot into fashion.
What's the idea with Adidas? I know, like I mentioned earlier, it's kind of vague and in some way it's an extension of fear of God. There's going to be if you've got athletics, correct? Yep. What is going into that?
What is your what is your vision for what you want to do with this opportunity in this situation?
My vision for our brand fear of God has always been to have like three different pillars. You know, it's our luxury main line, which is fear of God. It's our accessible terror, which is essentials. It was fog back in the day, but I felt like that felt dishonest. I felt like it felt like a takedown of the real thing. And I wanted to propose something authentic that could sit next to fear of God, but was at an accessible price point.
And then the athletic portion of it now just kind of rounds out the trinity of the house, the fear of God. You know, if if I go to get dressed in the morning, I'm with some sneakers on and some sweats, a t shirt I might throw a blazer on. You know, my outfit is composed of like three different categories. And I have an opinion and each one of those categories. And so athletics allows us as a team from God to have an opinion that's rooted in authenticity.
You know, when when we went to Nike, I was pretty headstrong about not covering up something that existed and making something that was built for performance. And the same way that I grew up loving Jordans, it wasn't because any other reason than watching him play in a performance sneaker. And I felt like if I were to go to Adidas or Nike or anywhere to color up a sneaker or something about that just felt dishonest. It felt gimmicky. And so the opportunity with Adidas to be able to to build performance product that you could play in workout and training, and that also completes the vision of of the fear of God aesthetic, allowing our fashion house, I guess, to be in relationship with self, so to speak, essentials for God and athletics.
But then further, a step further and taken on the lead role of Adidas basketball, being able to uplift the category of basketball simultaneously as we uplift athletics, I felt. I needed to have some type of creative say in what was happening within the category for fear of God to be successful.
Is this something where you look to athletes, to your athletic brand, like is that something you could foresee in the future?
Yeah, a hundred percent like signature shoes, those type of deals, or you're just outfitting guys in your stuff.
I mean, I think I think eventually it could turn into signature shoes, I think right now.
I have a point of view that's not rooted around someone specifically, and so our hope is to, you know, have have, you know, a handful of guys, you know, rock in our shoes in the court, you know, and then as we grow and we have the ability to start to diversify a little bit, we probably will add some signatures down the line.
That's though, Kevin, you've gained a reputation as a fashionable athlete in your own way.
I always say to, you know, I'm going to go ahead and say, yeah, I would say like that.
But yeah, I give it to me.
Can you give hope to tall dudes that say, yeah, that's what I want to do?
That's my goal to all the tall dudes in the world that, hey, I can't be fresh.
I feel like there's elements in what you do that are similar to what you're saying here. You know, you want to be do you want to wear these outfits and all these different spaces? We actually see you in your athletic field, right. Is that kind of how you approach it as well? I remember joking with you on the L.A. road trip like you showed up to the game in shorts and a hoodie, you know, Mike and dunks pride as SB dunks here.
And it's like everybody's about to start doing this now. Like, what is your approach?
I feel like, you know, the reason why I love Jerry stuff so much that is simple and it fits it fits me is just comfortable. And I think that's really what my fashion style is at this point, is just being comfortable in keeping it simple and. I guess that, you know, that fits me the best. I mean, and I can see it in a lot of other people. I mean, a lot more people are keeping it simple because a lot of this feel like a lot of these designers are coming in with a lot of crazy different off the wall concepts and colors.
And the ones that are keeping it basic are ones that are winning. So, yeah, this is really just, you know, the style to fit me. I know. I know.
Kev was a real one the first time we, like, went somewhere. I don't know what to wear. Like, we're going out. I wore sweatpants and then I get I get there. He's in sweatpants. Oh my. Are cool.
Like this guy's all right. So I do. I knew he was, he was on the same level with a lot of this shit. So I like what kept us alive in that space.
I think it's something about sweat man that just speaks again to that. Like people's point of view man like.
When you see somebody try and it automatically they they lose cool points because they thought they thought about it too much, you know, at that point, if you look like you put too much time into, like, how you are dressing something about that, just just kind of is kind of a.. Cool. And in my opinion and I think as men like we should be we should be too busy to have time to be.
That's exactly how I feel. But it feels like especially now coming into NBA arenas has turned into a fashion show. And who can get off the craziest outfits?
I mean, in your Europeans, like, would it like what is your definition of fashion?
I think fashion is different and style. I think style is like. Being able to. Express yourself. Effortlessly and clearly. Fashion, sometimes convoluted like that message. You know, if you got style, you can present yourself in a way that. That speaks to who you are clearly, so when you walk in a room, people have an almost having an understanding of your character. You know, and so fashion. Kind of convoluted, that message, and gets in the way, and I think that's one of the reasons why, you know, I love Adidas because I feel like it allows.
It allows me to be me and allows the sneakers to kind of like it's like there's a level of like holy simplicity within the DNA of Adidas that allows your swag to enter the room before the sneakers enter the room. And that was one of the things that was like really enticing and kind of like what Kev said in line with, like fear of God or just kind of is easy. Like we we allow our our customers to be themselves and our pieces.
You know, the branding is very minimal. It's all about shape, proportion, drape fit. But are the people wearing it? Take the front seat? Not necessarily the product.
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Now, you say say proportion and fit in. I wonder, does your idea of creative juices, I guess, does it extend beyond fashion at some point? I was watching I sent it to Kevin earlier. I was watching the famous Kanye interview with Zane Lowe. And he was talking about, you want to do water bottles. Right.
And I remember at the time I was laughing like, this guy's crazy.
I this problem and then as I like, progressed myself in my field, it's like you hate to be pigeonholed in the way he clearly felt in that point.
Do you feel that way? Because I feel like you're the aesthetics you go and kind of like the minimalist factor that extends to other places if you wanted to. Do you ever want to get out of that box and do other things?
Yeah, hundred percent. I mean, I renovate my house right now and I got an opinion on everything about the house.
Yeah. I imagine your house is like immaculately put together. It has to be right.
I mean, this is actually like my first home in all honesty. So like. Yeah, I mean, and and in filling this house up and tearing down walls and selecting color and fabrics and shapes and and learning how different materials live together. Yeah, I feel convicted that, you know, if I wanted to do furniture, that I could have a point of view that's consistent with what we've been saying through clothing that could live through furniture as well.
So I think, again, once you understand that playbook, what you understand what you're trying to say, I think it becomes easy for that point of view to live in. Whatever it is that you want to touch, Kevin, you get.
Do you feel pigeonholed in that way? Because one of the things he was saying was, you know, he's so strictly labeled as a rapper or a producer that when he wants to do shit like that, people are like, no, like to make beats. You have to go through that. Right. As a as an athlete, people know you as most, but I know you are creating all these other things on the side. Do you do you feel pigeonholed in that way?
And how do you get through that when you do a really?
Because I mean, if I know what I bring to the world, you know, people see me as that every day. And I know that's that's my entry into the world is what I do on the basketball court. But I don't always have to bring what I'm creating on the side to the forefront, to the forefront. So I don't feel like, you know, I can still create on my own without telling anybody. So I still feel that freedom.
I guess, even though, you know, people know me for one thing, you know, I'm still doing other things on the side and stuff, I mean, no matter what. But bringing it to the forefront and focusing and putting as much focus on other things as basketball, I mean, at this point in my life, that's not the concern for me. So it really doesn't matter because you home I think Kevin said it perfectly.
I think what you're creating. There's a level of fulfillment that comes with that that is independent of how other people feel about you or feel about what you're about, you know what I mean? You can do that quietly. You know, you can do that without bringing it to the forefront and get the fulfillment of that exercise without having to share it to the world. I think women get caught up in the world's opinion of who we are. And what we're doing is when we lose our point of view and when we lose the beauty of the real fulfillment of what creating is all about.
Yeah, that's that's a lesson I'm learning as I grow more and create different things. It's like that first feeling when you share it with somebody really close to you. What do you think of this thing? And they like it is way better than when it's public in public domain. And you get these feedback and it's it didn't always it wasn't always that way in my head. Used to be like, no, I need strangers to see this. And now it's like I have these like minded individuals, you know, if this person likes this, I know this is something here.
I know this is dope. Jerry, one thing I want to ask you about is you keep mentioning it like art and telling stories. And it's kind of crazy to me that clothing could be that I could see where somebody would look at clothing and say, well, that's that's a great shirt, you know, but for you, it's deeper. On top of that, you don't release on schedule. You don't release in season. I know this is boring.
A little bit out of necessity, probably a little bit out of defiance, but you just kind of release when you're ready. It's like a musician to me. Yeah. Did you see it in that same light? Like, I've talked to artists who were waiting on their album for years and it's like they have a timelessness to what they view their art. Do you see it the same way? Like I can drop this whenever I'm ready and whenever I want?
And why do you approach it that way?
I approach it that way because my focus is on the product. You know, my focus is on the season, you know, so when the product is ready and I feel convicted, that is ready to offer the world all my bets are on what I'm making, not what time of year it is. You know, not not when retailers and budgets are open. I've always been convicted that if you make something fresh like that, product will grow for you.
You know, as your you biblical, your gift, your gifts will well open doors for you, you know. And it's just like, let me honor. The gift that I've been given and being able to create and create to the best of my ability with the resources that I have and trust that that product that I'm putting out into the world is going to make space for me. And that's just the way that we operate, you know, with within fear of God.
And yeah, yeah, you're right. Initially, that was out of ignorance. I didn't know we needed to be on a fashion calendar. I just was making stuff and trying to trying to hustle it, you know? But because I am self-taught, it does take me a little longer to materialize some of these ideas in my head.
How collaborative is the community of creators like do you guys often talk and exchange ideas or, you know, we definitely don't exchange ideas on the jacket on a jacket that is going on now?
I think it is. You know, I've got some pretty tight homies that are in this space. And I think you over time, you realize who who's there for you and who's really for you, independent of how their career is going. And I've been able to identify those individuals. And and ironically, our conversations are never about fashion. You know, we're not even talking about creative stuff. We're talking about life, kids, family. But it's it's the foundation of understanding that brings us together that we're both, you know, in the same industry.
You know, I mean, I'm sure a lot of the conversations with your teammates aren't always about who you are to me. And so, you know, yeah, we may talk about talk about it here and there, but my closest relationships with, you know, the cats that I know in fashion, you know, I'm not about fashion.
Is that Chuka? I mean, I know that's something we say a lot on here. Let's not talk about work, but that has to be how operates for you. Right? You get around, guys, and you made exchange a couple of words about a game or whatever, but you Katsunobu talking family talking, video games, whatever you do is how it works for you in the league. It works.
It works that way. And I ask that question because it gets to a point where it's like, for example, Corrinne, we're always talking about the game.
We're always talking about the history of the game. We could hit it in the game. So I often wonder if other industries, these guys share this type of you know, how these type of relationships do you have those conversations with cats that are not on your team?
Yeah. They're not just not just Chiri. I mean, I could use a better example. Other guys on different teams. We you know, we we had these high level basketball conversations along with, you know, the life conversations and, you know, everything outside of the game, too. So I wondered if it's the same in every industry because I asked a couple of people who came on the show to and some people had the same most people had the same answer as you.
And I would say to your point. If if I am talking to other creatives that they're like high level conversations, you know, if I'm talking to Virgile and talking about some nuances of what he has to deal with at, you know, it's not about necessarily the product product kind of thing is kind of like the high level type of of of conversations or with my boy Kearby I Pyramus. You know, what's going on at Reebok and how is that going to help me navigate Adidas better?
And we have those conversations for sure, but very rarely about kind of like the doneness of like the creative part of it. You know, I I do have those conversations with my teammates, of course, and internally. But externally, you know, it is high level. I would say it's high level similar to you.
Your creative process is fairly mostly you. Right. I feel like I seen this where a lot of the designers are coming directly from you and then you have your team that helps bring that to life. Is that just like a selfish thing, like you have a very specific vision for yourself?
Not in a bad way, but just like, you know, like Beyonce, I said I'm sensitive about my shit. Right?
I design pieces that I want to wear. And I if I were designing something that I wouldn't wear, I would feel dishonest putting it into the marketplace. So I think that is why so much of what we do here is fear of God is is somewhat of a reflection of my personal style, because it goes through the lens of what I wear. This, you know, and it's. And if it goes through that lens, then most likely it's going to, you know.
Kind of look and feel like Jerry, you know, and so, you know, you know, whether that's narcissistic or selfish, you know, maybe that is what it is. But that's that's what my conviction lies. My conviction is what I wear. And if I wouldn't wear it, I'm definitely not going to try to sell it. But if I would wear it and I know that it would mixed in with what I have at home, it just gives me the confidence that, you know, there are other people that would feel the same way.
Well, I ask because, you know, my entry into media is as a writer and it's such a solitary space and I feel like what you do and it must be along the same lines, you know, like these are all born in your head and you can almost get stubborn with working with others and stuff like because I know I do and I'm slowly learning to work with other people and carrying out much bigger visions.
And so I just intrigued because, you know, like I said, so much of it centers back at yourself. This is how I want to look. This is how, you know, things I would wear. And I know it's interesting, creative space to be in on. One thing I wanted to ask you about, too, is you're one of the few people who in recent memory who's made a like a basketball sneaker that's actually broken into the lifestyle space with the which are Nike shoes.
Why do you feel like so many new someone, new sneakers aren't doing that? Is it just the way we're dressing now? Is it just you know, people are focusing on performance? Like, what do you think it is with that?
I mean, it's the reality is 90 percent of people that buy CDs and hope and so what? Why are we not considering the 90 percent of people that aren't playing basketball and what their lifestyles look like as as much as as much as we're considering that the 10 percent, you know, and so that's you know, that's that's what I attempted. You know, that's what I thought I was building with the Nike team is, hey, let's just let's not we're not trying to make a shoe that crosses over, but let's just at least consider the off the kid, kid, kid throughout the entire process of development.
How is this going to work with his genes or how is this going to work with his words? How is this going to work with everything else and not to take any of the performance capabilities away, but just to consider both throughout the design process? And I think that, you know, over the last twenty years, it's been so performance focused that I think, you know, the industry has lost sight of the reality that the majority of these shoes just aren't worn.
On the basketball courts, you know, we've come up in similar areas, you're a little older than me, Kevin, but I remember like the anticipation of the new Jordan, the new basketball sneaker, and they would come out year by year. And I feel like it's almost lost and it's been replaced by, you know, these high sneakers that people get into. And they looked up as well. And I get it. But I kind of long for that idea of the new athletic sneaker that I also want to wear, you know, outside.
I also want to wear to the mall when I walk around or whatever.
And it's just it intrigues me that guys are having guys are struggling to break through in that way. So you haven't did it. It's like, who better to ask? Right.
Basketball space, it's tough. I mean, looking at Jordan shoes for, for example, like how many colorway is that Jordan release in one year. Like, it feels like I got a release like 20 Colorways in the season. It is like you can you can easily get tired of a brand in a year at Nike at this point. But back then it felt like Jordan was losing his keloid. Bulls, black, black, white, red. Once it once it took two or three colorways and it just it just lasted the whole season now.
Just feels like too much going on in that space on top.
It was like a prestige to write, like there was a mistake to those shoes that, you know, and Jordan was getting forty and nine to help.
And the designers help as well. Man, there's a reason those things are still around and everybody's toying with them. And the Jordan one is just everywhere at the moment. And that's, you know. Forty year old shoe at this point. Yeah. Twenty twenty one is looking up, new beginnings means new opportunities to grow your business. If part of your strategy is adding new members to your team, LinkedIn Jobs finds the right person quickly to make things better.
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Just visit LinkedIn, dotcom, Etsy again as LinkedIn, dotcom, Etsy to post a job for free terms and conditions apply. In sports, if you think Joy only happens after you win, think again, look at the world's most successful athletes. They don't spend all their days just grinding away because they know that happiness is the key to winning in their joy. Is the whole game, not just the end game? That's right.
They take time to enjoy themselves. Like having a Michelob Ultra with friends is good to have some balance.
We have tons of examples of athletes taking time just to enjoy themselves. I always like how someone like Victor Oladipo could just go make an RB album or something.
Michael Jordan always got on the golf course, played cards or whatever, and he didn't have fun because they know that happiness is the key to winning and that's the joy to the whole game, not just the end game. How do you take some time away from the game and enjoy yourself?
I like playing video games, listening to music, making podcasts, having to make a lot of friends. So grab a mic. Also today, ninety five calories, two point six grams of carbs is only worth it if you enjoy it.
Jerry, I want to go back to storytelling, because I know your first few lines, they were they were real ripe with nostalgia and going back to your lifestyle. You know, you were banned T-shirts and flannels and stuff you seen coming up.
And even your baseball, your hats that you do there, they're set back in that as well. Like, why was that important to you to bring that to the forefront, that type of era of late 80s, early 90s and things you grew up on?
I don't know if it was important to me, I think it was more authentic to me, it was me is the same reason I don't leave God out of the conversation. I think the only the only way that I can authentically separate myself from the noise is to put every part of who I am and to what I'm proposing to the world. Whether that's a little Kurt Cobain saying smells like state teen spirit next to Method Man, like all of these different influences are a part of who I am.
And so finding a way to understand the nuances of all these influences and put them in one product and say one thing has been what I've been able to do over time because. That's how I've had to present myself in order to move into certain circles when I was younger in high school. You know, I'm a go hang out with these kids listening to Pearl Jam and then I'm a go who you mess around with the basketball team. And, you know, I got to be versatile, you know, I got to feel like I can fit in.
I think that's something that we all want to feel as humans. And again, like all of those different things, just all of those things that were influencing me and things that I was attracted to. I wanted to show that in a way that I was expressing myself through fashion, Kev, do you consider how impactful Whooper seem to be on fashion at the moment like this? Does that register with you as you have to go out and be seen as often as you are?
Not doesn't I mean, our culture was never based on what we wore to the games. You know, it didn't feel like that to me. But I understand that with social media and Instagram and. We're more seen on that stage and people want to know we got on, so I mean, there's definitely evolved over time, just like everything else, but it's still feel like it's not the culture.
It's not a part of the culture to me, you know, in a, you know, fashion or style.
I mean, it's all if the like is always going to be about the whoops. So it's cool for now. But, you know, actually a lot of guys is doing too much at this point to go.
Exactly. You know, I just keep it simple that I know what I'm there to do in it to one hundred right now.
What's it like seeing guys, you know, where your stuff in your your brand have such a prestige now? And the hype, they call it now, and it's permeated the NBA and hip hop and it's in all these spaces now that, you know, like you mentioned, you were in so many spaces yourself before.
I man, it's it's humbling, man. And know I'm old enough now to know that it's never really been about me. It's about the next generation. So I understand the responsibility that comes with the platform. And so I always keep keep that perspective, you know, and, you know, never get too high, you know, understanding that, you know. There's only one person the most high that I've got to please and, you know, fame is going to come and go.
Fame is fame is man made. So it could easily be taken away. So, you know, I'm I'm I'm blessed that that I've experienced this that this is part of my life. What I can understand it and have full perspective of what it really is versus that it it taken on a life beyond the reality of what it is, if that makes sense.
Now, does do you feel like you'd be able to balance it that way had this happened 10 years ago?
Had it you know, even when you're younger to not know men are being turned up out of bed to four out of all of them out of bed believing everything you're saying about dressing fresh.
And I have been worried about that.
You know, when you reach this point, though, like this type of this mentality, because it's like just super locked in. And I feel like there's always an evolution in us as human beings.
Like when you feel like you hit that point, say, like five years ago when I stopped drinking and I was like five years ago, I was in a club in Miami. I think I was at my club 11:00 a.m. and I was like.
Toe up and I had like a fear of God t shirt on. I went back to the hotel and I was like. You know, but how do you have a T-shirt that says, for God on the back living this lifestyle, you know, like like at what point are you going to be. Consistently. Integral about who you are and what you claim to represent, and I just had to make some serious changes in my life and just kind of made some changes, cut some things out, stop doing certain things.
And I realized that the gift that I have was given from above and it can be taken at it at any moment if I didn't use it to. I guess glorify the one that gave it to me, so I just had to make some tough, really tough decisions were just necessary decisions. You know, I'm not I'm not in this. I've never been a hype, dude. I never bought a hype sneaker. I'm not in it for the hype.
And I'm. Jay-Z trying to trying to be around forever and playing for forever, you know? So in order to do that, I just had to, you know, like CDs say, man, get locked in and get in a jam.
So you took more of a spiritual approach to your work, to your craft.
After I was I took a more spiritual approach. I just tried to take a more honest approach like light. And that came with me changing the name of our lower tier from Phog to like essentials from ethnology. Like I don't want someone to buy something for me, feel like they're getting a watered down version of something else. How do I give you the best version at this price point? You know what I mean of what it is. And so.
Chasing honesty and everything that I do, chasing integrity and everything that I do, I think your gifts will get you in the door. I think it's your character that keeps you in there, you know. So. It really just kind of like making those changes, man, you know, and it's easy to get caught up in everything that comes along with it, but. I I know that I'm not in this for those extra things, and so it's at this point in my life, it's easy for me to.
It's a mess, our slide around some of those things, I could I could take me out being this locked in, are you able to kind of have leisure time still?
You seem to be busy like from the outside looking in, but there has to be time when you're able to relax. I know you're a family man. You have kids, you have nieces, nephews, the whole nine. Are you able to take that to handle yourself as well? Yeah, I mean, just to cast their ballots, to cast their ballots. Definitely this heavy lift that's happening now with Adidas. Fully consumed by life in the studio to ten o'clock every every day, you know, understanding the calling and the responsibility of this opportunity.
I don't take it lightly. And I'm not a I'm not a entertainer. You can't put my face on the side of something and expect for it to move. You know, there's tons of nuances and intangibles that go into that product that we obsess over in order for it to do what it what it's supposed to do, you know, and never once do I think something's going to move because our brand name is on it. You know, I got to do the work, you know, and what has me here is the work.
I don't I don't have an album that's going to get you excited about my product coming out. I don't have a jump shot. You know what I'm saying?
I you know, I probably could I probably could, you know, jelly on Katy, but maybe maybe fade away. Maybe fade away. But you got you got to the jump rope. Yeah.
Like I don't have that made. It depends on my you know, I'm saying it depends on the crack. So I got to focus on the craft. You know, the I put in to keto my Tsuchida is ninety nine.
You know, I'm locked in on two counts if you want and all things happen.
And that's what I love about you man. Like I have always had so much respect for the way you approach the game. Thank you man. Appreciate that. I was at the game in Cleveland man.
When you hit that three which year.
Oh I don't know what year it was.
The three it was it was probably two thousand eighteen because I had two threes.
It was the nail in the coffin and you came down on the left side of the court. Nail in the coffin, like I think I remember seeing you walking on the sun on the baseline or something. Oh, man, I mean, star studded event that night that I'll never forget that moment, man.
Like that was that was just. Oh, gee, I appreciate that. How did that feel? What did that really feel like?
So liberating his leg because I practiced that shot so many times and it's like I missed a bunch and games before and times it stuck out to me. And then I was like, fuck, I finally made one, you know, for it to be the biggest shot of the season. I was just like, man, all that work, you know, you think about all that work you put in when you achieve some success. So, yeah, it was, you know, the feeling and it was it was one of those amazing, amazing times.
Were you able to enjoy that in the moment? You've still got time live in a game like it's like, you know, you're so locked into like you're so focused. You able to feel that in a moment? Are you like is this happening 20 minutes later in the locker room? Like, Oh, shit.
Like I did some almost Parbo eight, nine years in the league. At that point, I understood how fast the game transitions from each end and how to get excited and when to let it go, you know, decided on a little hop back. And then once I turned around and get ready for defense, I was like, I I know exactly how that shot is going to live for the rest of my life. So now I could just dispose of it and get ready for the next position.
I really I was thinking because I knew how big that moment was, I was a nail in the coffin, man.
I was like, wow, I can't believe I got to experience this. I was like, right now I was like, oh my God. And I, I flew in and out. I flew out there just for the night. I came out there, Dollo went to the game, although I was like, man, how much of a treat my treat myself, you know, my go I go to the game, you know, and I'll never I'll never forget that experience and see in that moment, because you you literally took the air out of the entire city like the entire city was.
You could hear a pin drop after that shot. It was like you just like crushed all of Cleveland. It was it was insane, man. Like, I'll never forget that moment.
Yeah. That was probably the best feeling. I was the best quiet in a crowd like that.
And then seeing how I've seen him leave the arena like that, it was just incredible. Damn, you brought back some memories with them.
The place was on a trillion. It was on. Yeah. So so for you to like just take it out like that, I was like, oh, that felt good. I'll buy the person bird on KDAF.
I think you got it there man. They got it. That might have been icing Kobe do the sack before. And I remember like I remember at the time I was in high school and I remember like I've never seen the energy just leave a place like this. Seventeen thousand people, just people were crying, people walking out the building crying.
I couldn't believe one person could do that to that many people, it was nuts.
Sports is a wild thing. When you get so invested so fast, we need them.
Grousbeck one of these days when it's safe and all that good stuff for sure, but it's lacking.
Jerry, one thing I wonder about you. You your brand is set so many trends, whether it was, you know, the hoodies with the zippers we mentioned earlier, or I remember seeing joggers on Nipsy with long drawstrings and just like and then seeing them everywhere. Somebody who says trends like that is is that imitation flattery for you?
Is it like you're like, come on, you know, your stuff's pop stuff that's meant to be your stuff is popping up in chain stores. It's all over the place. Is it irritating? In a way?
I think initially it was tough for me to swallow, but then, you know. I know I know where the ideas came from, and so I know that I can come up with another one, you know, if if if I was a one hit wonder, I'd be worried about it. But, you know, I got know I got a spin move to go with the fadeaway, you know.
So, you know, it's just it's kind of what Katie said is like, you've got to constantly stay locked in, you know, you've got to constantly stay locked in because. Yeah, I mean, these style styles is getting jacked constantly and, you know, new brands popping up. And, you know, not that I feel like I'm competing with new brands, but I just want to further and further differentiate myself so that, you know, when you see if you're a guy, you know, it's fear of God, you know?
And so that's kind of where I am now is like, how am I? How am I?
Through construction and through development, like creating pieces that when people see them, they know that they're from our house and they know that it's not a replica, you know, because back in the day, like you said, like, I can drive past there, like pages all over Atlanta and I see a dime day like so, you know, it is what it is.
Nipsy, talk about Nipsy real quick, because I know that someone who helped push the brand, maybe not officially. Right. But he was he's had a huge impact. And you end up doing as you like, collaborative commemorative hoodie t shirt line real quick at the hip. What was your guys relationship like in his relationship with the brand?
Oh, man. He came by. We had a pop up at Maxfield's and we met for the first time. He came by with the Lord and man, just one of the most humble individuals you'd ever meet. And I went to grab a bunch of stuff for him and he just insisted on paying for everything. He wouldn't take a discount. It really was. You know, I want to support you and I believe in what you're doing, I want to support you.
We just connected like immediately, you know, and I started talking to him. And this is I was probably like maybe maybe like a year or two sober at that time. We were talking about that. He was saying I was trying to stop smoking. And, you know, we we we were young fathers and trying to just transition. You know, I'm trying to transition out of the club and, you know, things that I've been into.
And he's trying to transition from another lifestyle as well. And, you know, just. Being black men and understanding what it's like to be out of the forefront in our respective industries with no other intention other than to pave the way for people behind us, we just had a. A very strong connection, you know, and when you when you meet those people that are like you, you know, not a lot has to be said, you know, it's just this is this is there.
And so when we did the collection, you know, I had his brother Sam came down and and JP and worked on the placements and we had a big Crenshaw like reflective hit on the back of the hoodie. And his brother was like, now we got to do it this way. Tackled Will. It needs to be placed here. And just the nuances of making sure the hoodie was exactly what it needed to be to honor him and having his brother do that with me like.
Just gave me the reassurance that this platform that I've been given again isn't about me and. You know, those are the moments that keep you going when you're able to honor someone like that and provide, you know.
Through our donation to to hayseeds, you know. Just in in a small way, you know, and so that was that was an amazing experience that No. One, that the family allowed us to do it and then to that they even got in the weeds with us making sure it was, you know, what it needed to be to fully represent who he was. So that was that was a good experience.
That Blue Cranshaw, Hudema, I'm still on track. One down. That was that thing is perfect. I think it's perfect.
That's down from Fort right here with a Excel and made it up.
There we go. That's all together. Appreciate you.
So what do you got going forward? You have a bunch of big things going on. Obviously, we already talked about Adidas and you drop him. You just dropped pieces from the seventh collection as well. And I know you work years in advance. Like, what are you got going forward that we need to be on the lookout for? We're always trying to catch it when we can with the drops and all pipe culture now is, like you said, is gone in seconds and we got to track it down.
But what do you got going on, you know, going forward this year and beyond right now?
Honestly, my focus on this Adidas, you know, just like, you know, palanquins, you know, just redirect the category. Redirecting the basketball category is like just what I've been consumed and obsessed with. And so. That's that's where our focus has been and we've we're getting ready to launch Essentials kids here in the next month and a half working our women's our first women's collection later on this year. Got a fragrance on the way out. I've got some other collaborations that I can't really speak on this.
Just trying to keep this thing. Movement was trying to keep this thing moving. And I think the the whole goal of landing this in this relationship was to finally get to a place where. We can be in a relationship with ourselves as a company where we don't have to collab. I mean, we could do a sneaker and athletics and we could do a hoodie and essentials and three thousand dollar overcoat and main and we don't have to leave our our home in order to express ourselves, you know, and that was the whole point.
And what I felt was so important for us to have this third pillar of the of the company, you know, just how are we in relationship with ourselves without having to. Be in constant collaboration or relationship outside of what we have going on here. So now they think I don't just focus on everything that we have happening inside. Well, yeah, I mean, I was trying to keep this thing going, man is trying to break the barriers and, you know, kids of color, minds of what's possible for their lives, you know, and, you know, everyone you know.
And obviously, I have a heart for kids of color because I am of color. And it's it's also us that has the barriers that we don't have representation ahead of us that are doing certain things. So we just by default, don't think that we can play in certain areas.
And so I'm just trying to kick down as many doors as possible that yeah, that's me Kevin talked about all the time, you know, just kind of showing people that we came up with this idea, you know, athlete, rapper, one of the other. That's the only way to make it and to really be big. And I love that all these doors are opening and all these people are focused on showing people like my brother and my son that, you know, you don't have to do that.
You could do this. You could be a journalist. You could you could have a fashion house. You could be a million different things and be just as impactful and as important as, you know, the athletes and the rappers. So as though it's dope to hear that from you and to hear that that's part of your focus. So we appreciate having you here, man. You're one of the people we want to talk to the most. Shout out to your brother again for helping us do this in my manbulloo.
I can say a sec. I was born Esack as well. So it was all it was. It was awesome.
It's amazing. When I learned that, I was like, Really? And I know you moved around a ton and you have roots everywhere.
But I was like, oh, that's crazy. You know, your brother knows a bunch of guys I know out there. And so it's nice to see things come full circle that way.
Oh, cool. But I'm like, we hit them up man. Yeah, but my parents are back inside now so. Yeah.
As though, as though they had estriol to thank you for being him and giving us your time and appreciate you. I know Kevin isn't allowed to get money Yadira stuff but I will give you my address. You can send his back to me. I'll give my SARS's.
Our choices are pieces now man. So like if you are, if you listen to this, this is our pieces that we do.
All right. This man is a legend. So I have to say the love man. We appreciate you, bro. Thanks for everything, man. Thanks for coming on. Thanks for what you do for the universe, man, because this is deep appreciation to love it, man. Love to see a player come together for somebody like yourselves. That's a great genuine person. So, again, thanks for being here, man. Thank you. Thank you both.
I appreciate your.
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