There’s more to our business than runway shows, model castings & photo shoots. As we all know all too well, these comprise like 2% of the overall work load of an average day in fashion. The other 98% happens behind the scenes, in the workrooms, the production offices, & in the factories on literally every continent on the planet.
For the past 40 years, the American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA) has been hosting its American Image Awards as an evening celebrating the accomplishments of ALL facets of this jewel of an industry. Each year, the organization honors 5 leaders of our business, highlighting each of their various contributions while demonstrating how each story relates to the overall message of our industry… a message the world knows simply by one name: ”Fashion”
The roster of past honorees reads like fashion’s who’s who list with names like Diane Von Furstenberg, Andrew Rosen, Li & Fung, Saks, Robert Graham, Marvin Traub, Betsey Johnson & even Barbie (& this list would go on & on & on). You’ll notice some of the names are immediately recognizable, while others are not so. That’s not without intention. The American Image Awards is the only event in our industry that brings the luminaries in our industry together on the same stage as the support structure behind the brands. The only difference between those not so known & those whose names are household to us all is the degree of spotlight they share. To the AAFA, each is important as the next.
In 2018, the honorees slate follows:
The event is being hosted by the iconic Katie Couric, who will share the stage with the honorees, the CEO of AAFA, Rick Helfenbein, & the CEO of the CFDA, Steven Kolb, who will be on hand for the second year in a row as the charitable benefactor.
We asked AAFA’s CEO, Rick Helfenbein a few questions in preparation for this story & here’s what he had to say:
What is the mission & vision of the AAFA, & why it’s so important?
AAFA is where fashion & politics intersect. We call it Advocacy that fits.
As the trusted public policy & political voice of the apparel and footwear industry, our office ensures that decision makers – on Capitol Hill, in the Administration, & around the world – understand the concerns & contributions of our great industry, which includes nearly four million U.S. workers & about $384 billion in annual U.S. retail sales.
We guide more than 1,000 brands in understanding the issues that impact them across trade policy, supply chain management, & brand protection. The political processes in Washington, D.C. are chaotic right now, with tense interaction between the private sector & government. As such, it is critically important that the industry come together to engage in the political process & make our collective voice heard.
For the past few years, the American Image Awards has been building momentum. It’s now more than 40 years old. To what do you attribute this new momentum?
In recent years, the American Image Awards has been remodeled to reflect the changes that we see across our industry. Our honoree slate has been redefined to reflect today’s fashion & retail landscape; & our charity beneficiary – the CFDA Foundation – enables us to directly reinvest back into our industry. Today, we have heightened our social media engagement & we draw an increasingly diverse & global audience with attendees from around the world. If for any reason you can’t attend this year, follow along with #AmericanImageAwards on social.
What important apparel & footwear issues are at the forefront in 2018?
If you had asked me earlier this year, I likely would have said the most pressing issue for our members is America’s potential withdrawal from the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) which is still a significant threat under President Trump’s trade agenda. Today, however, we are in the midst of a fight to avoid a trade war with China. Last week, President Trump announced plans to impose a 25% tariff on a range of products representing $60 billion of U.S. imports from China. This would be to the immediate detriment of American consumers who would see substantial price increases at retail.
Apparel & footwear companies are already one of the most taxed business enterprises in America. In addition to the corporate tax, our group also pays $15.5 billion to the U.S. government via tariffs on imported products. This accounts for 51% of all duties collected by the government while our products only account for 6% of all imports into the U.S.
The bottom line is, AAFA works tirelessly to ensure that the administration in Washington does not stampede our industry or cause prices to skyrocket on the essential clothes & shoes we wear every day.
Why attend the American Image Awards?
The evening celebrates the outstanding achievements from our industry’s leaders who are taking us into the future. On April 16th, 583 Park Avenue will be the place to see & be seen. The relationships you’ll make are definitely worth your while!
How can companies and individuals purchase tickets to the event?
Learn more about each of the esteemed honorees & purchase tables/tickets at aafaglobal.org/awards.
Thanks Rick! We’ll see you on the 16th!
AAFA Website: www.aafaglobal.org
Press Contact: The Bromley Group