AAFA American Image Awards 2019
by Stephen Garner

The American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA) hosted the AAFA American Image Awards last night with a sold-out event celebrating the accomplishments of the fashion and retail industry at the iconic Plaza Hotel in New York City. Hosted by award-winning actress Brooke Shields, the gala honored leaders, influencers, and innovators in the apparel and footwear industries and benefitted the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) Foundation.

The AAFA American Image Awards honorees included Person of the Year, Isaac Ash, president and CEO of United Legwear & Apparel Co.; Retailer of the Year, American Eagle Outfitters; Company of the Year, Birkenstock; Designer of the Year, Eileen Fisher; Fashion Collaboration of the Year, Disney Princess x Ruthie Davis; and Media Brand of the Year, WWD.

“It is no secret that our industry has been navigating profound change in the way we sell and bring product to market. Our honorees have not only welcomed these changes, but have thrived,” said Rick Helfenbein, president and CEO of the American Apparel & Footwear Association. “The American Image Awards is about celebrating the future of fashion. This year’s honorees exemplify where the industry is heading, and it was a privilege to showcase their success.”

“We thank the AAFA and all those who attended the American Image Awards for the support to the CFDA Foundation,” added Steven Kolb, president and CEO of the CFDA. “Through the Foundation, we are able to devote funds towards important causes and initiatives, such as HIV/AIDS, Fashion Targets Breast Cancer, disaster relief, domestic manufacturing, and education and professional development.”

Jay Schottenstein received an enthusiastic reception upon accepting his award for Retailer of the Year. Schottenstein spoke about the age of Amazon and Millennials and the company’s secret to success — happy customers, great quality and exciting product, and motivated, positive employees. Guests were treated to a fun and engaging video from Ruthie Davis x Disney which noted the launch of a new princess collection for Aladdin featuring highlights of this empowering collaboration. Guests listened attentively as honorees Ruthie Davis, designer, and Heather Sanchez, senior licensing manager for consumer products, spoke about the successful partnership.

Eileen Fisher accepted the Designer of the Year award. Known for her commitment to social issues and timeless designs, Fisher engaged audiences with her inspiring journey through the fashion industry, as well as her latest inspiring projects. Legendary for both his business acumen and generosity, Isaac Ash was presented with the Person of the Year Award. Ash received a resounding response and spoke about his deep-rooted philosophy in giving back to those in need as an everyday occurrence. During his electrifying speech, Ash committed to donating 500,000 pairs of socks to Delivering Good.

David Kahan, CEO of Birkenstock Americas, accepted the Company of the Year Award. Kahan spoke about the brand’s heritage, its fashion collaborations, and the company’s vision for the future. The Media Brand of the Year award was presented to Paul Jowdy, chief business officer and publisher of WWD & Fairchild Live, and James Fallon, the WWD editorial director.

Photos by Dave Kotinsky / Getty Images