On the biggest night in footwear, it was only right to have a special expert present New Balance with the 2020 FN Achievement Award for Athletic Brand of the Year.
Sydney McLaughlin is an American Olympic hurdler and sprinter, as well as a silver medalist at the 2019 World Championships. The athlete is also a New Balance partner, who signed on with the Boston-based brand for a multiyear contract in 2018. And tonight, McLaughlin added on a new title: presenter.
The professional athlete presented New Balance with its well-earned FNAA title tonight, speaking to footwear fans from her home in Santa Monica, Calif.
“Since joining the New Balance family, they have been a great partner to me and I am very proud to honor them tonight,” said McLaughlin during the show. “Staying true to its heritage as an innovator in the running industry, New Balance elevated its stature in the ultra-competitive run category with the debut of its carbon-fiber plate and the FuelCell RC Elite. Plus you couldn’t miss the seemingly endless run of New Balance collaborations [this year].”
To accept the award from McLaughlin was none other than New Balance CEO and president Joe Preston, who called the athlete an inspiration with her “positive energy and extraordinary talent.”
“On behalf of the 8,000 New Balance associates worldwide, I am excited to receive the Footwear News Athletic Brand of the Year for 2020. We are so fortunate to be part of such a dynamic and successful industry,” said Preston.
There is much for the executive to be proud of this year at New Balance, from introducing new sneaker silhouettes to leading innovations in the footwear and running fields. The heritage brand figured out how to hit multiple high notes in a year filled with many lows.
“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,” said Preston during the show. “We pivoted and leveraged our domestic manufacture, produced PPE and accelerated our digital transformation to quickly respond to the changing consumer needs.”
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. The first virtual FNAAs are presented in partnership with The Style Room Powered by Zappos, and sponsors FDRA, Deckers Brands, Soles4Souls and Foot Locker.
Click through the gallery to find out more about all of the 2020 FN Achievement Awards winners.