What do you stand for?
It’s the question that an increasing number of consumers are asking brands and retailers when it comes to a growing range of topics, from diversity and inclusion to sustainability, women’s empowerment, philanthropy and hot-button political issues.
In light of this new reality on the consumer landscape, Footwear News presents its 2019 Achievement Award winners, a group of companies and individuals that have scored impressive business accomplishments, while also dedicating themselves to goals that aid the greater good.
Designer Kerby Jean-Raymond of Pyer Moss has used his brand as a platform for change, celebrating the black experience with his innovative designs and helping to ignite a movement to address long-standing issues related to diversity and inclusion. FN will recognize his efforts with the Person of the Year honor.
The 2019 Retailer of the Year, Dick’s Sporting Goods, has similarly taken a public stance in its decision to limit its firearms business and back national gun-control legislation. Though controversial, the move has proven to be a financial and PR win that has prompted other companies to follow suit.
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It’s been a little more than a year since Designer of the Year Amina Muaddi launched her eponymous see-know-buy-now luxury line, and already her distinctive flair heels are favored by “It” girls like Kendall Jenner and Hailey Baldwin, as well as Rihanna, who used Muaddi’s shoes in her Savage x Fenty runway extravaganza. The half-Jordanian, half-Romanian designer continues in her wish to “inspire Middle Eastern women to live their own dreams.”
Speaking of inspiring others: With each generation, Dr. Martens manages to attract a devoted audience of young people, drawn to its authentic message of comfort, individuality and rebellion. Once again, the millennial and Generation Z crowds have fallen under its sway, landing its Original 1460 boot the coveted Shoe of the Year award.
Tommy Hilfiger is also enjoying the wave of ’90s nostalgia, but the designer — who is this year’s Collaborator of the Year — has not been content to rehash old looks. Instead, he’s welcomed fresh perspectives from young partners such as Zendaya and Lewis Hamilton, and both retailers and customers approve.
Indeed, to thrive in the current retail landscape involves a fair amount of risk-taking, something the 2019 Company of the Year knows well. After cordoning off its denim business, VF Corp. focused on its footwear brands, particularly Vans, which continues to turn in stellar sales. And as a member of the Outdoor Industry Association, the firm faced off against the Trump administration regarding tariffs and the environment.
For Brand of the Year, FN will recognize two labels: The digital-native newcomer Rothy’s and sports powerhouse Puma. With sustainability at its core, Rothy’s emerged as the go-to commuter look, even before it was spotted on the feet of the Duchess of Sussex. And Puma continues to hone a female-focused lifestyle message, with help now from Cara Delevingne and Selena Gomez, that has netted major sales growth globally.
In a first for FN, the magazine will recognize a male Style Influencer of the Year: chart-topping star J Balvin. The Colombian singer, who is one of the most streamed artists on the planet, is also one of the most fashionable figures in music today with a colorful, irreverent look that is always unexpected.
For 15 years, though, FN’s Emerging Talent Award has highlighted many up-and-coming designers and brands. This year’s recipients, Paris Texas and Midnight 00, both hail from Milan and celebrate fine craftsmanship and the type of “slow fashion” that is meant to be cherished.
The winners of the Icon Award for Social Impact are friends and fellow designers Donna Karan and Kenneth Cole. Cole, who also received this award 2011, is being honored again for his and Karan’s latest mission: to train and support artisans in Haiti through their joint shoe collection.
But few in the shoe world have given as much to the industry and the community as Bob Campbell, chairman and CEO of BBC International. During his 66-year career, Campbell has been a tireless supporter of organizations like the Two Ten Footwear Foundation, the American Heart Association and Florida Atlantic University, all while building a global footwear company that leads the children’s market. For his many contributions, FN will honor him with the Lifetime Achievement Award.
And in December, FN will induct three new members into its illustrious Hall of Fame: retailer Jeffrey Kalinsky, brand titan Steve Madden and designer Sandra Choi.
As creative director of Jimmy Choo, Choi has been the quiet visionary behind the blockbuster brand, helping to shape a narrative that empowers women in every walk of life. Madden, meanwhile, has delivered must-have fashion season after season and built an organization that fosters the next generation of design and business talent. Kalinsky’s work with his Jeffrey stores and as VP and designer fashion director for Nordstrom has pioneered merchandising excellence while also raising over $9 million for charities that support HIV prevention and LGBTQ+ civil rights and education.
All the winners will be recognized on Dec. 3 at the 33rd annual FNAAs, held at the IAC Building in New York. Sponsors for the event include Klarna, Geox, The Style Room Powered by Zappos, FDRA and Micam Milano.
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