Industry legends. Visionary leaders. Rising design talent. Hot style influencers. Cool shoes.
The 31st annual 2017 FN Achievement Awards, set for next month in New York, will honor the boldest and the brightest stars of the year.
“In the increasingly challenging and complicated times we live in, these trailblazers are thriving,” said Michael Atmore, editorial director of Footwear News. “Many have shaped the industry for decades. Others will help define our future.”
One of the most recognized names in sneakers will be honored with the Manolo Blahnik Lifetime Achievement Award. Tennis icon Stan Smith had a celebrated career on the court, but little did he know that a partnership with Adidas would extend his legacy around the globe and across generations. He returns to the FN stage after winning the very first Shoe of the Year award, in 2014.
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This year, designer Virgil Abloh has scored the coveted Shoe of the Year honor, following in the footsteps of the Adidas Stan Smith, Kanye West’s Adidas Yeezy Boost and Rihanna’s Fenty Puma Creeper. Abloh’s Air Jordan 1 sneaker from his “The Ten” collection with Nike truly set off a feeding frenzy in the market. The extremely limited-edition style is coveted by sneaker aficionados and celebrities alike. Roger Federer is such a fan he wore them on the court, and resellers are now listing pairs for upwards of $2,280.
Meanwhile, Victor Luis has dramatically expanded his own influence this year. The executive’s mission to create a U.S.-based house of luxury brands came to greater fruition with Coach’s acquisition of Kate Spade. For that insight, FN selected Luis (CEO of the newly named Tapestry Inc.) as Person of the Year.
Similarly, Steven Madden Ltd. has been relentless in its business approach, earning it the Company of the Year honor. While others have faltered, the firm has consistently delivered strong results, even besting the estimates of market watchers. And with its latest store openings and increasing focus on the men’s market, its ascension is nearly certain.
Our Designer of the Year also has expansion in mind. Gianvito Rossi dove full-force into the men’s business this fall with two boutiques and a full product line. And he remains one of the go-to names in the women’s market with his elegant yet imaginative styles. Among his devotees are Beyoncé and Kate Middleton.
Kith creative director Ronnie Fieg knows more than a thing or two about creating a loyal following. The Collaborator of the Year ignites big buzz with each of his special collab sneakers, with Asics, New Balance and others. But his recent Kith x Nike Air Maestro II design was one of the biggest highlights so far — for customers and for Fieg.
Another label with a devoted customer base is Birkenstock, 2017’s Brand of the Year, which has been one of the brightest spots in the retail world, appealing to all ages and camps, from suburban teens to street-style stars.
Puma has also had a meteoric rise of late, earning it the title of Marketer of the Year. Its collaboration with Rihanna continues to garner attention, along with its growing roster of famous partners such as Kylie Jenner, The Weeknd, Big Sean and Selena Gomez.
In the luxury sphere, Alexa Chung has nabbed the Launch of the Year award for successfully transitioning from model to designer with her eponymous contemporary label.
And Mary Alice Malone and Roy Luwolt of Malone Souliers will receive the Vivian Infantino Emerging Talent Award for the brand’s bold, decisive designs. That honor has previously been bestowed on designers such as Sophia Webster, Nicolò Beretta, Aurora James and Nicholas Kirkwood.
The Italy-based Attico brand will also take home Launch of the Year for its foray into footwear — a move that wowed retailers and consumers alike.
One other Fashion Week regular who has emerged as a major star is 20-year-old model Hailey Baldwin, whose fearless approach to fashion keeps everyone guessing. FN has dubbed her the Style Influencer of the Year.
In addition to highlighting new talent, the Achievement Awards will recognize individuals who have had a lasting effect, including two members of the Caleres Inc. family.
Diane Sullivan, chairman, CEO and president of the footwear firm, will receive the Icon Award for Social Impact for her contributions to the Two Ten Footwear Foundation and many other groups. And Famous Footwear president Rick Ausick will be inducted into the FN Hall of Fame.
Finally, Liz Rodbell, president of Lord & Taylor, has also been named a Hall of Fame honoree. The executive has had a major impact to the shoe industry during her celebrated career.
The invitation-only FN Achievement Awards will be held Nov. 28 at the IAC Building in New York, sponsored by FFANY, FDRA, Zappos Luxury and Ruffino Wine.
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