Today, the American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA) revealed five individuals and companies that have exemplified leadership, excellence, and outstanding achievement in the fashion industry. They will be honored at AAFA’s American Image Awards on April 21, 2020 at The Plaza Hotel in New York City.
The honorees include Kenneth Cole – Person of the Year; Ralph Lauren Corporation – Company of the Year; Brandon Maxwell – Designer of the Year; Alibaba Group – Retail Innovator of the Year; Bravo/Project Runway – Fashion Maverick. Emceed by Brooke Baldwin of CNN, the gala benefits the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) Foundation.
“The American Image Awards is about celebrating fashion’s future. This year’s honorees exemplify this ideology,” said Rick Helfenbein, president and CEO of AAFA. “Not only are these individuals and companies successfully delivering quality and innovative products, but they are also leading our industry across key global performance issues including environmental stewardship and social responsibility.”
Person of the Year – Kenneth Cole
Kenneth Cole is an American designer, social activist, and visionary. His global company, Kenneth Cole Productions, creates modern, versatile, and timeless clothing, shoes, and accessories. Cole is renowned for his work promoting AIDS awareness and research, including 14 years as Chairman of the Board for The Foundation for AIDS Research (amfAR). In 2016, due to his tireless advocacy, Kenneth Cole was appointed a UNAIDS International Goodwill Ambassador by United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. In 2019, Cole launched The Mental Health Coalition, a group of nonprofits, businesses, brands, and celebrities focused on ending the stigma against mental illness.
Company of the Year – Ralph Lauren Corporation, accepted by Patrice Louvet, President & CEO A leader in design, marketing, and distribution of premium lifestyle products for more than 50 years, Ralph Lauren is the quintessential lifestyle brand. Throughout its history, the company has been at the forefront of the fashion industry and most recently has augmented that position with its five-year Next Great Chapter strategy. Accepting the award will be the President & CEO Patrice Louvet who joined the company in July 2017.
Designer of the Year – Brandon Maxwell
Brandon Maxwell is one of the world’s leading fashion designers. Playing a pivotal role in defining today’s modern, empowered woman, Maxwell’s work embodies a celebration of individuality that is leading change throughout the industry. Maxwell’s eponymous brand has been worn by many of the world’s most influential women, including Michelle Obama, Oprah Winfrey, Jane Fonda, Reese Witherspoon, Duchess Meghan Markle, and Lady Gaga. In addition to his role as Creative Director of his brand, Maxwell is also a judge on Bravo’s Project Runway.
Retail Innovator of the Year – Alibaba Group, accepted by Michael Evans, President
Founded in 1999 by Jack Ma, Alibaba originally was designed as a website to help small Chinese exporters, manufacturers, and entrepreneurs sell globally. Twenty years later, Alibaba has grown into the world’s leading online and mobile commerce company, connecting nearly 700 million consumers with more than 190,000 brands and more than 10 million small businesses. Providing businesses with technology infrastructure, marketing tools, consumer insights, payments, and cloud computing, the company is building the future of commerce. Accepting the award will be Michael Evans who has served as Alibaba Group President since August 2015.
Fashion Maverick – Bravo/Project Runway
Premiering in 2004, Project Runway has showcased the untethered imagination and reinvention that is the essence of the fashion industry. Having just launched its 18th season on Bravo, Project Runway both celebrates the industry and provides viewers with an inside look at upcoming designers and the profound, cultural impact of fashion. Throughout its history, many former contestants have received the American Image Award honor having risen to fame on the program, including current judges Christian Siriano and Brandon Maxwell.
“We are appreciative of the support the AAFA has given to the CFDA over the past four years,” said Steven Kolb, president and CEO of the CFDA. “Our efforts to develop and operate impactful programming are directly strengthened through our relationship with the AAFA.”
Additional information on the American Image Awards, including table purchases, can be found at www.americanimageawards.org.
Supporters are encouraged to join the conversation using #AmericanImageAwards.
About the American Apparel & Footwear Association
The American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA) is the national trade association representing apparel, footwear and other sewn products companies, and their suppliers, which compete in the global market. Representing more than 1,000 world famous name brands, we are the trusted public policy and political voice of the apparel and footwear industry, its management and shareholders, its nearly four million U.S. workers, and its contribution of more than $400 billion in annual U.S. retail sales. AAFA provides exclusive expertise in trade, brand protection, and supply chain & manufacturing to help our members navigate the complex regulatory environment and lower costs. Members gain unparalleled access to information and exclusive insights on regulation and policy, and premier opportunities for networking and collaboration.