Aurora James Is the 2020 FN Person of the Year

Designer and entrepreneur Aurora James has been named the 2020 Person of the Year by FN, and will be honored in December at the first virtual FN Achievement Awards.

Since launching her luxury footwear label Brother Vellies in 2013, James has inspired the fashion world with her unique design vision focused on craftsmanship, sustainability and equality. At the same time, James has been a tireless champion of diversity and equity in fashion. This year, she took on a vital leadership role in the industry, guiding important conversations about racial justice.

Following the tragic deaths early in the year of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and others at the hands of police officers, top retailers took to social media to speak out against racism. But James challenged them to do more and commit to real change by pledging 15% of their shelf space to black-owned businesses.

“We represent 15% of the population and we need to represent 15% of your shelf space,” James posted on Instagram in May. “You want to be an ally? This is what I’m asking for.”

aurora james, brother vellies, women in power, women at home, work from home, shoe designer, 15 percent pledge
Aurora James at home in Brooklyn.
CREDIT: Courtesy of Aurora James

Over the past few months, several major companies have signed on to the 15 Percent Pledge, including Sephora, Rent the Runway, West Elm and Vogue. But more significantly, by throwing down the gauntlet, James has pushed retailers to rethink the way that inclusion appears on their shelves, and to lend more support to BIPOC designers.

And her recent collaborations with When We All Vote and Pyer Moss further illustrate James’ personal commitment to creating cultural change in this country.

As she receives one of FN’s highest honors, James also stands out as a two-time award winner. She was previously recognized in 2015 with the Emerging Talent award.

Keds, aurora james, brother vellies, vote sneakers
Aurora James wearing the vote-themed gear from her collaboration with Keds.
CREDIT: Courtesy of Brother Vellies

For 34 years, the annual FN Achievement Awards (often called the “Shoe Oscars”) have celebrated the style stars, best brand stories, ardent philanthropists, emerging talents and industry veterans. Previous recipients of the Person of the Year honor have included Kerby Jean-Raymond, Diane Sullivan and Christian Louboutin.

The first virtual FNAAs will air online Dec. 8 and are sponsored by The Style Room Powered by Zappos, and FDRA. Other honorees include Cardi B as Style Influencer of the Year, Amina Muaddi for Fenty as Collaborator of the Year, and the Nike Dunk as Shoe of the Year — plus many more.

Click here to RSVP for the show.

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