In a few short weeks, Footwear News will present its annual Achievement Awards, recognizing the best and brightest new stars of the year, as well as icons who have shaped the industry for decades.
The event, often dubbed the “Shoe Oscars,” returns on Dec. 2 with a lineup of stellar honorees from the realms of high fashion, athletics, music and retail. This year’s sponsors include FFANY, Zappos Couture and FDRA.
“These worlds are colliding like never before, and shoes are at the center of the action,” said FN Editorial Director Michael Atmore. “In a year defined by the best designers, social media innovators and smart leaders, our award winners lead the pack.”
One man who’s mastered every aspect of the business is FN’s Lifetime Achievement Award winner, Robert Greenberg, chairman and CEO of Skechers USA Inc. After first creating the wildly popular LA Gear label, Greenberg has built Skechers into an unstoppable force.
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Foot Locker Inc., this year’s Company of the Year, has been a sales driver as well, buoyed by feverish consumer demand for all things sneakers. Led by new President and CEO Dick Johnson, the retailer has been riding the trend wave with the latest, hottest releases and also shoring up its future with tech initiatives and a focus on women.
FN’s Designer of the Year, Edgardo Osorio, has already cemented his standing with the most discerning female shoppers. His sexy, ultra-luxurious creations for Aquazzura regularly grace the feet of red carpet stars like Bella Hadid, Lily James and Olivia Palermo. And the designer, who just two years ago was FN’s Vivian Infantino Emerging Talent, has successfully broadened his collection, with his must-have flats a major standout.
Mytheresa.com also has a unique take on the luxury market. The German e-tailer, which will receive the Retailer of the Year award, represents the future of the business with its cutting-edge technology and international approach. And with the aid of parent company Neiman Marcus Group and the leadership of Josh Schulman, president of Bergdorf Goodman and Neiman Marcus Group International, the retailer is poised to reach even larger audiences in the luxury world and beyond.
That’s a feat that Christian Louboutin knows a lot about. As this year’s Marketer of the Year, the designer’s label proved that everyone wants to be part of @LouboutinWorld, especially on social media, where its covetable shoe pics reach more than 5.6 million Instagram followers and 3 million Facebook fans.
Certainly, it was a year for lucrative connections.
Under Armour, FN’s Brand of the Year, scored wins of its own by teaming up with sports phenoms Stephen Curry and Jordan Spieth, both of whom had sell-out signature shoes. And the company’s unions with Tom Brady, Gisele Bündchen and Misty Copeland continue to generated buzz — and big sales jumps. Just last week, the brand reported its first billion-dollar quarter, with footwear strength leading the way.
But few footwear items have drawn as much attention this year as Adidas and Kanye West’s Yeezy Boosts, the recipient of FN’s second Shoe of the Year honor. West threw the full weight of his — and his family’s — celebrity behind this Adidas partnership, turning the Yeezy Boost high-tops and low-tops into 2015’s absolute must-have, can’t-get items. And with more colorways in the pipeline for the holidays, Adidas is sure to get another “boost” from the Kimye clan.
The spirit of partnership was also alive and well at Timberland, which will be honored with FN’s first Collaboration of the Year award for its work with Billionaire Boys Club co-founder Pharrell Williams.
Their Bee Line x Timberland collection was a fresh take on a classic boot — and turned out to be social media gold, thanks to pals like Beyoncé and Rihanna.
In addition, FN will honor two people effecting change in the fashion world — and beyond.
Designer Prabal Gurung will receive the Icon Award for Social Impact for raising much-needed awareness and funds to aid earthquake survivors in his native country of Nepal.
And Aurora James, designer of the Brother Vellies label, has been named 2015’s Vivian Infantino Emerging Talent. James launched her luxe footwear line two years ago with a focus on African craftsmanship — which has helped preserve jobs for traditional artisans in countries like South Africa and Kenya.
Last, but certainly not least, FN will induct three footwear-industry icons into its Hall of Fame: Journeys President Jim Estepa, who has spent 30 years growing the teen retailer into
a powerhouse, and brand-building gurus Sam and Libby Edelman, the husband-wife duo behind two formidable namesake businesses.
The Full List:
Designer of the Year
Edgardo Osorio of Aquazzura
Icon Award for Social Impact
Marketer of the Year
Shoe of the Year
Adidas Yeezy Boost by Kanye West
Vivian Infantino Emerging Talent Award
Aurora James of Brother Vellies
Hall of Fame
Sam & Libby Edelman
Brand of the Year
Collaboration of the Year
Bee Line x Timberland
Manolo Blahnik Lifetime Achievement Award
Retailer of the Year
Company of the Year
Style Influence of the Year