American Image Awards honoring leaders in diversity and innovation – WWD


The AAFA American Image Awards 2021 virtual, benefiting the Council of Fashion Designers of America Foundation, on Monday honored companies and individuals committed to diversity, inclusion, innovation and global reach.

This year’s award winners were HanesBrands as company of the year; Walmart Retail Innovator of the Year; Gabriela Hearst as Designer of the Year; Black in Fashion Council as Fashion Maverick, Sustainable Apparel Coalition as Eco-Steward of the Year (a new category) and ShopShops as Digital Innovator of the Year.

The 43rd annual ceremony was moderated by Segun Oduolowu, who stated, “This incredible work is being done by these incredible organizations, and especially in this last year full of new challenges and new realities. But tonight it’s all about seizing new opportunities. “

Speaking from the National Mall in Washington, DC, Stephen Lamar, President and Chief Executive Officer of AAFA, which represents more than 1,000 brands worldwide, greeted attendees with the words, “This is indeed a summer of relaxation for many people, Families and communities. We have come so far together because so many in our country and around the world have made heroic efforts. “

He added, “While our work is not done yet and COVID-19 remains a very real threat worldwide, I am confident that we have the purpose and determination to address the many challenges ahead.” He also pointed out that AAFA is focused on helping businesses succeed, fighting the toughest battles, ending trade wars, and protecting brand integrity.

For the past five years, AAFA has partnered with the CFDA Foundation as a beneficiary of the American Image Awards. The gala will return to The Plaza Hotel on April 26th next year.

In a taped conversation with CaSandra Diggs, CFDA President, Lamar said, “This year we have worked together on a number of political fronts, both regarding COVID-19 and those that don’t.”

According to Diggs, the partnership with the American Image Awards has supported industrial investments and the CFDA Foundation with all of their programs, most recently with their diversity, equity and inclusion work.

“Together, these investments have helped support CFDA’s ability to be a better steward of the future of our industry,” said Diggs, suggesting that top management has a role to play in the ultimate culture change. CFDA launched the IMPACT program and increased financial support to the Designer Hub, both of which identify and support underrepresented creatives and professionals in the fashion industry. As a result, it saw increased investment in color brands, with six of 10 Fashion Fund finalists coming from the Designers Hub and $ 1 million being given to Icon360 through a CFDA donation. She has also seen color professional promotions and hires in key positions in leading companies.

Colin Browne, Under Armor Chief Operating Officer and Chairman of AAFA, said, “The expression that we are all in the same storm but not in the same boat is so very true. The past year has really increased the inequalities that exist in our society. We need leadership, leadership that is intentional and purposeful. We have to be nimble and adaptable, but the most important thing is to be loud. We have a responsibility to be a force for good, ”said Browne.

In addition, Browne said the industry has moved in very unexpected ways over the past year and has happened much faster than they ever expected: “Consumers and their expectations have changed. They expect us to be sustainable. They expect us to be citizens of the world … We have the opportunity to engage with these changes and accept them. And in my opinion that is the strength of this community. “

Accepting the Fashion Maverick Award, Lindsay Peoples Wagner, co-founder of the Black in Fashion Council, founded last August, said: “We are incredibly honored to be part of so many changes in the industry. We just wanted to work hard and make sure there were measurable and sustainable changes in the industry. We have a long way to go. ”Sandrine Charles, the other co-founder, added that she envisions a day when blacks are represented and empowered at all levels.

Sandrin. Charles and Lindsay Peoples Wagner
Courtesy of AAFA.

Amina Ravzi, Managing Director of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, accepted the first Eco-Steward Award. SAC is a global, non-profit, multi-stakeholder alliance for the fashion industry. It consists of more than 250 leading apparel, footwear and textile brands, retailers, suppliers, service providers, trade associations, nonprofits, NGOs and academic institutions that work to reduce environmental impact and promote social justice along the global value chain.

Amina Ravzi
courtesy of AAFA

Ravzi said this has been a 10 year journey and she is incredibly proud to have her work recognized by the AAFA. In May, they launched their new transparency program, which will help companies communicate their sustainability performance to both consumers and stakeholders, “and help them make better decisions and encourage collective action and size,” she said. “Now more than ever, we need to come together as an industry to solve systemic challenges that no single organization can solve on its own,” she said. “We believe partnership is the new lead … there is so much to do and no time to lose,” she added.

Liyia Wu, founder and CEO of ShopShops, said of the Digital Innovator of the Year award: “I am honored to be recognized in such a challenging year. With the COVID-19 lockdown and so many challenges, I was happy to keep so many of my favorite brands afloat by selling live … when physical shopping wasn’t an option. ”She said there was no doubt that the past year was the kind and the way consumers shop have changed forever. “I hope that ShopShop can help preserve the art of shopping. Shopping is not just commerce, it is discovery and entertainment. “

Liyia Wu
courtesy of AAFA

Nina Garcia, editor-in-chief of Elle, introduced Gabriela Hearst as Designer of the Year. “[Gabriela] is someone I admire both professionally and personally. She is a Latina colleague and someone who has become an inspiration to everyone in our community.

“She has made it her business to show us that sustainability is the truest luxury we have. Gabby sets trends and not just the ones that hit the catwalk, ”said Garcia. In 2017, Hearst became the first designer to put on a carbon neutral show and was the first designer to use deadstock fabrics before it became fashionable.

Hearst, which was videotaped in Paris, thanked the AAFA for honoring herself and her team, saying that this honor gives her company the fuel to focus on its sustainability mission.

Gabriela Hearst
courtesy of AAFA

Designer Brandon Maxwell, who was named AAFA Designer of the Year last year and is also the Creative Director of Walmart’s upscale brands, introduced Denise Incandela, Executive Vice President, Apparel and Private Brands at Walmart, acting on behalf of Walmart as Retail Innovator of the Year was awarded. Maxwell said it was a dream of his to be worn by Walmart all his life because he shopped there as a kid and continues to shop there.

Upon accepting the award, Incandela said, “It’s been a year like no other. Bring yours [Maxwell’s] The creative direction and the incredible design talent for the Free Assembly and Scoop brands are definitely one of the highlights. “

She also congratulated her other winners: “You are an impressive group, and your achievements lead the industry into the future at lightning speed. It’s a future we couldn’t foresee 16 months ago before we knew how a global pandemic would affect retail and shopping behavior in the short and long term, from groceries to pet supplies to housewares and clothing and everything in between. We all worked hard to be there for our customers when they needed us most, ”she said.

Over the past year, she said they had expanded their shopping and pick-up options; They introduced Walmart Plus, which saves customers time and money, and worked with federal, state and local governments to set up COVID-19 testing and vaccine distribution at Walmart locations across the country. “In retrospect, it is really remarkable to see the innovation that arose from the need to act quickly and be there for our customers,” she said.

But she also went into the lighter moments: “We sold lots of fantastic tops for those Zoom calls and hunted loungewear and slippers all year round because our customers wanted to be comfortable at home.” She said they had aggressively added national brands like Champion, Reebok, and the US Polo Association, and expanded exclusive, upscale brands like Free Assembly, Soffe, and Scoop. She said they are excited to work with Maxwell to improve their brands. that they partnered with ThredUp to acquire Zeekit, a virtual customization technology.

Mike Faircloth, Group President, Global Operations, American Casualwear and E-Commerce at HanesBrands, accepted the HanesBrands’ Company of the Year award.

HanesBrands is represented in more than 40 countries and employs 61,000 people and produces 70 percent of its clothing in its own factories.

Mike Faircloth
courtesy of AAFA

“We sincerely appreciate that AAFA has recognized our company’s longstanding commitment to corporate responsibility and sustainability,” said Faircloth. “Like all companies, Hanesbrands had to quickly address the unprecedented challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, from keeping our employees safe to navigating an uncertain economic environment.” He said they were able to convert their operations within weeks , “To meet an urgent need at a critical time”.

Said credit goes to his production people, supply chain team and people across the company who have come together in the most difficult of circumstances, he noted, “Sustainability is one of our core strengths and we have our dedication to this important space . “


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