Best Quotes from the 2020 Footwear News Achievement Awards

Oh what a night!

From John Legend’s powerful opening to Iris Apfel’s hilarious take on 2020 to the night’s biggest moments with Cardi B and Rihanna, there was much to take in at the first virtual FN Achievement Awards.

And the biggest takeaway from the event is that our winners all share a common bond: They’re the entertainers, executives, designers and retailers who are igniting change at a critical time. Their voices have never been more needed — or more powerful.

Read some of the best quotes from the winners and presenters below.

On 2020, a year like no other:

“2020 has been hard but I think that I’ve definitely used this time to be more self-reflective. You know, a lot of [what] was going on in the past, like with the red carpets and the Met Gala — God knows I love a Met Gala — but it’s distracting a lot of times from who you are as a creative and who you want to be in the world … So for me, I’ve been really introspective about how do I want to spend my time on this planet, what I want to be and what I want people to remember me for.” — Person of the Year Aurora James

FNAA 2020 Aurora James Kerby Jean-Raymond
Two winners and friends keep it real: Person of the Year 2020 Aurora James and Person of the Year 2019 Kerby Jean-Raymond at the 2020 FNAAs.
CREDIT: Footwear News

“2020 has been an incredible year being in the space of retail, being able to stand up for the people who we believe in and our community,” Whitner said while accepting his award. “Evolving retail and keeping our community at the center of it is something we’ve been focused on for years, so it’s a huge accomplishment for us to be recognized for the work we so passionately love to do.” — The Whitaker Group’s James Whitner, Retailer of the Year

“Summer of 2020 showed us again how important and how integral youth culture is to our future.” — Hall of Fame honoree and Foot Locker Inc. CEO Dick Johnson

“I only have two choices: to be positive or negative, and I’m a person that prefers to say that the glass is half full. Actually, I don’t know if that’s the way I was, but during this pandemic, I’ve been training myself.” — Iris Apfel

“This [award] is really unreal considering the year I’ve been through. Beirut has been through so much, between the economic collapse, the revolution, the pandemic, and to top it all off there was the explosion.” (The Aug. 4 blast killed more than 150 people, injured thousands and obliterated Wazen’s store and offices.) — Andrea Wazen, Emerging Talent winner

Iris Apfel FNAA 2020
Iris Apfel’s verdict on 2020? “Stinko”
CREDIT: Footwear News

A Defining Moment for Social Justice

How the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and other ignited a movement:

“These killings made clear to the general public what Black folks already knew: racism is real, it is ugly and it is woven into the systems that govern our everyday lives. [The deaths] ignited a new commitment for people all over the world to end the violence and destruction of systemic racism, but if the last few months have taught us anything, it is how powerful and essential it is for us to come together for a common cause. — John Legend

Raising your voice

“I was actually pleasantly surprised you were the type that spoke up, because so much of my experience in fashion with other Black people is that when I open up, I usually end up looking stupid because I’d be the only one who said something … [With you], I felt immediately protected and I felt camaraderie because we were not scared to ruffle feathers.” — Kerby Jean-Raymond, in conversation with Person of the Year Aurora James 

The Power of Fashion

“I be trying to give ya’ll variety. I might do a Birkin with a bathing suit and then I might just do the latest Louis Vuitton, leather jacket. I like to be raunchy and I like to be chic and elegant. I get bored with doing just one thing. I’m happy that people like all my looks. I wish I could have given you more but [COVID] is a hatin’ ass bitch.” — Style Influencer Cardi B

“I just come from being a fan of sneakers. I remember all those moments when I opened boxes, opened sneakers, waited in line, so I guess I’m trying to re-create that emotion, re-create that nostalgia. — Designer of the Year Salehe Bembury

“Birkenstock has been pretty close to my family my whole life. I had my first pair when I was 13. I even met my wife, [Lisa Bonet], and she had them on. I make all of my shoes that I fight in and do stunts in out of Birkenstock. We take them and mold them, and depending on the character I play we build our own look based on Birkenstock.” — Jason Momoa, who presented Birkenstock’s Brand of the Year award

“This is for the culture, this is for the kids. This is for all of our customers, our clientele and our community. We love you guys and we can’t wait to continue building this. We’re so honored to have this and we can’t wait to see if we can keep knocking this out year after year.” — Rihanna, who accepted Collaborator of the Year with Amina Muaddi and Jahleel Weaver

jaden smith, salehe, fnaa 2020, footwear news achievement awards
Designer of the Year Salehe Bembury and Jaden Smith took a hike in L.A. to reflect on Bembury’s incredible year.
CREDIT: Courtesy of Footwear News

Having a Purpose

“At Timberland, we truly believe that a greener future is a better future, but these words only matter if you put resources and actions behind them. Corporate social responsibility has never been a silo for Timberland. It’s embedded in the business we do every day.” — Tracy Smith, VP and GM of Timberland Americas, who co-accepted the Sustainability Award

“I am proud of our brand’s purpose-led and inclusive culture and the work we’ve done this year to elevate our diversity and inclusion efforts through a strategic and collaborative approach. We pivoted and leveraged our domestic manufacture, produced PPE and accelerated our digital transformation to quickly respond to the changing consumer needs.” — New Balance CEO Joe Preston

“Crocs stepped up in the face of adversity to deliver comfort at a time when it was needed the most. The company reinforced what it always stands for — that doing the right thing is the right thing for the brand, its employees and the community. It’s important to me that I partner with brands that recognize that they can do well by doing good for others. I’m proud to work with a brand like Crocs, who shares the same values that I do.” — Priyanka Chopra Jonas, who presented Crocs with the Brand of the Year award

priyanka chopra, gown, dress, lace, emilia wickstead, sheer, crocs clogs, embellished, platform, footwear news, fnaas, 2020
Priyanka Chopra poses in an Emilia Wickstead dress and embellished Crocs for the 2020 FNAAs.
CREDIT: Courtesy of Crocs/Priyanka Chopra

“Our mission is to make this industry better, better than when we entered it. Our mission is to make sure this industry does more. This award really inspires us to do more for future generations to come. Our purpose is to show this industry what could happen if you invest in your consumers, and you view them and value them as more than just being consumers.” — D’wayne Edwards, founder of Pensole Academy and winner of the Icon Award for Social Impact

“My father always stood out from the crowd with his charismatic, generous character. He had the gift for fine-tuning like no one else and could manipulate a shape by changing a single millimeter, ultimately perfecting and transforming a silhouette. — Gianvito Rossi on his late father Sergio Rossi, who was inducted into the FN Hall of Fame

The Hot Shoes:

“The Nike Dunk is by far one of the Swoosh’s most recognizable sneakers as a younger generation has arrived to embrace the history once again. … [The Dunk] has shifted from college basketball to skate culture and now has solidified itself as a streetwear staple.” — Ambush co-founder Yoon Ah, who co-presented the Nike Dunk with Shoe of the Year

“I very much believe that the Nike Dunk is one of the special shoes that cross-pollinates between an athletic icon but also a culturally relevant canvas over the years.” — Off-White CEO and Louis Vuitton artistic director Virgil Abloh, who co-presented the Nike Dunk with Shoe of the Year

“I am the No. 1 Ugg fan,” Talley explained. “In fact, you’ve seen me so many times on the front row [during] Fashion Weeks … in the international global fashion cities — Paris, London, Milan and Rome — wearing the classic Ugg boot.” — André Leon Talley, who presented Deckers Brands with Company of the Year

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