by Stephen Garner
AAFA American Image Awards 2016
Rick Helfenbein and Joseph Abboud at the 2016 American Image Awards

Rick Helfenbein, president and CEO of the American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA) has announced the Fashion Manufacturing Initiative (FMI) – part of the Council of Fashion Designers of America Foundation, Inc. (CFDA) – as its beneficiary for the 2017 AAFA American Image Awards.

Established four years ago, FMI, in partnership with the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC), funds grants for advancements in manufacturing and training, design innovation, and production intelligence. This platform, which continues to expand, connects design and production for all apparel, footwear, and accessory products covered by AAFA. FMI has already awarded more than $2 million in grants. Among the many beneficiaries of FMI are emerging businesses that are incubating new products and processes to advance professional development and strengthen the industry’s workforce for the future.

“AAFA is deeply honored to partner with the CFDA and support its Fashion Manufacturing Initiative as our 2017 American Image Awards grant partner,” said Helfenbein. “We are committed to advancing the people, policies, and processes that are imperative for our industry to grow and profit in a rapidly evolving economy.”

“The CFDA Fashion Manufacturing Initiative is an important program to preserve garment manufacturing in New York,” said Steven Kolb, president and CEO of the CFDA. “With the support of the AAFA, we are able to continue and expand those efforts.”

Recognizing outstanding achievements throughout the apparel and footwear industry, the awards will feature Person of the Year, Retailer of the Year, Company of the Year, Designer of the Year, and Fashion Maverick. First awarded in 1977, the American Image Awards stands as an emblem of honor for those who have exemplified leadership, excellence, and outstanding achievement in all sectors of the apparel and footwear industry, including education, design, manufacturing, and retail.

The American Image Awards will take place on April 24, 2017, at the historic 583 Park Avenue venue in New York City.