April 27, 2022 (New York, New York)
The American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA) hosted the 45th AAFA American Image Awards last night with a high-energy celebration of the accomplishments of the fashion and retail industry at the iconic Plaza Hotel in New York City. Emceed by Entertainment Journalist & Television Host Segun Oduolowu, the gala honored leaders, influencers, and innovators in the apparel and footwear industries.
The AAFA American Image Awards honorees included Chip Bergh, Levi Strauss & Co. – Person of the Year; Gap Inc. – Company of the Year; Prabal Gurung – Designer of the Year; ThirdLove – Fashion Maverick; and The Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s Fashion Initiative – Eco-Steward of the Year. For the 6th year, AAFA partnered with the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) Foundation as its beneficiary with the proceeds funding the future of the industry and the development of invaluable philanthropic programs.
“The 2022 honorees are true visionaries, turning hard-learned lessons into new sources of strength to build a better industry and a better world,” said AAFA President and CEO Steve Lamar. “AAFA thrives on the energy that our honorees bring every day, and taps into the passions of all our members, as we create educational and policy solutions for the industry. We are proud of – and eager to multiply – their impactful contributions around the globe.”
“As the CFDA commemorates 60 years of fashion this year, we reflect on the industry’s evolution over the past six decades, recognizing the immense impact American fashion has created across the globe including that of which has been created by tonight’s honorees,” stated CaSandra Diggs, President of the CFDA. “The funds raised this year will support both our educational and social impact initiatives to invest in a more inclusive, just and equitable future for fashion, people and planet.”
The already jubilant mood of the room continued to build as the program unfolded with heartfelt gratitude, humorous anecdotes, and substantive messages shared by Oduolowu and each honoree as they accepted. Andrew Morlet accepted the Eco Steward honor on behalf of The Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s Fashion Initiative, before Heidi Zak, co-founder of ThirdLove, the 2022 Fashion Maverick gave a very personal acceptance that spoke to the power of consumer engagement, innovative partnerships, and inclusivity. Designer of the Year Prabal Gurung masterfully brought the room to a pre-dinner crescendo with his powerful review of the state of the industry’s progress on inclusion. His comments earned the first of the night’s two standing ovations.
AAFA President and CEO Steve Lamar returned to the stage with his statements about the mission of the AAFA and how the organization plans to serve the industry in the post pandemic era. Founder of the Harlem Fashion Row, Brandice Daniel spoke of the power of inclusivity in her introduction of Gap Inc. CEO Sonia Syngal, who accepted the Company of the Year honor with a look back on the history of her company before pivoting to a clear vision of what the future holds. Jack Haddad, President of Haddad Group, gave an intimate introduction of Levi Strauss & Co. CEO Chip Bergh who left his high-level job in the consumer products sector to turn around the legendary brand that sits at the heart of the American fashion aesthetic. As Bergh accepted his Person of the Year honor, the room was once again on its feet before concluding the program with a late-night cocktail soiree in the iconic Grand Ballroom.
The red carpet buzzed with stars, fashion executives, and designers in celebration of the night’s honorees. Designers and Creative Directors included Cynthia Rowley, Byron Lars, Nick Graham, John Bartlett, Stan Herman, Jeffrey Banks, Kenny Kas, Teddy von Ranson, Edvin Thompson, Bach Mai, and Fe Noel. Notable VIP’s included Steven Kolb (CFDA), Peter Arnold (Fashion Scholarship Fund), Shawn Osborne (Two Ten Footwear Foundation),Tom Murro (Fox Lifestyle), Sydney Park (Miss New York), and Jimmy Gary, Jr.(NFL All-Star and TV Actor).
“On behalf of AAFA’s Board of Directors, congratulations to this year’s honorees for embracing transformation, leading with resilience, and bringing people together for the greater good of all in our industry,” shared Sarah Clarke, AAFA Chair and Chief Supply Chain Officer, PVH Corp.