Adidas has a lot riding on Athletics following the collapse last year of Yeezy, a business worth billions. The speculation—or hope—among investors is that Athletics is meant to fill the gap. The arrangement would make sense from a design standpoint, given that Lorenzo had a hand in the promising early era of Yeezy. I note that the basketball sneakers are reminiscent of the high-top Yeezy 750, which came out in 2015 and which Lorenzo is said to have helped design.
“I can’t take any credit for any of the shoes that Ye led,” he says. And while one can see why the Athletics sneakers would appeal to a Yeezy customer, Lorenzo balks at the idea that his project is being positioned in any way as the new Yeezy. “I built fear of God with the intention to create something that I knew that only I could create,” he says. “I think what Kanye did with Adidas was something that only he could do. And I have too much respect for him to come in after him and try to fill a hole. So that’s the last thing I’m trying to do. I’m hoping to get out of that conversation.”
Though Adidas CEO Bjorn Gulden has acknowledged that “there is no other Yeezy business out there in the market,” in an earnings call in May, he stated that Fear of God Athletics could “commercially be a game-changer for Adidas by 2024.”
As for Adidas itself, Lorenzo now says, “I think with any relationship, it just takes time to learn each other. Do you have the patience to understand each other’s perspective? Are you seeing the future the same way? And I think because we both see the future the same way, that’s kept us together through some tough times over the past three years.”
And soon enough, Lorenzo says, the product will achieve the perfection he’s been striving for all these years. “I can happily say we’re on the right path for it to be exactly what we dreamed for it to be. By the second half of 2024, you’ll see full performance shoes that are light, playable and transcend the court. Nothing will be compromised.”
Still, even by his sky-high standards, he’s pretty happy with the sneakers that he can finally show the world. He picks up the tan pair again. “You can play in these, but would I say it’s the best basketball shoe in the market? Probably not. But is it one of the best looking sneakers?” He pauses, smiles, admires his handiwork. “Maybe.”