Phillip Lim called on the fashion world to keep fighting for underserved and under-represented communities as he accepted the Social Impact Award at FN’s 2021 FNAAs on Tuesday night. Lim was honored for being one of the leading voices in the fashion community speaking out against hate crimes and violence against Asians, and has drawn much needed attention and funds to the cause.
Lim was presented with the award by fellow fashion designer and voice of the #STOPASIANHATE movement Prabal Gurung, who shared that while “Asian-Americans are the fastest growing racial or ethnic group in the U.S. electorate, somehow we’ve always been rendered insignificant or invisible. That’s why I feel we can never be too bold or too loud enough when speaking about safety, inclusivity, and acceptance.”
“It is easy to be woke and a leader in a flaming hot moment when the whole world is excited about the trend,” adds Gurung. “But what is really difficult, but vital, is the revolution that really comes about because true leaders didn’t give up on the method, but rather consistently, quietly and with determination and continue to show up for those deemed invisible. That is Phillip Lim.”
Upon accepting the award, Lim admits that he is “beyond humbled” to be in a room of such inspiring people. “But just to keep it one hundred,” he admits. “I’m not an activist, but I have been activated. It was never my intention to be out in front, but I understood I needed to lean in and use my space to bring awareness and participate in the work. I am proud of the work that we’ve done. That #STOPASIANHATE has become an incredible movement from a very dark moment.”
Lim adds, “This award really belongs to the activists and the guardian angels doing the work every single day to ensure that justice and decency is in balance for all. I can only accept this recognition on their behalf, and it is my honor to stand up here to represent them.”
“There is power in speaking up and fighting for what you believe in,” he says. “I’m calling on the fashion world and everyone in this room and beyond to keep fighting for our communities and the underserved. It is up to us, every individual, every community to show up in a way that’s going to create long lasting progress.”
Together with Musa Tariq, Bing Chen, Robecta Ma, and Vinh Long Nguyen, Lim set up a comprehensive GoFundMe initiative that supports Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) organizations across the United States. So far, the fund has raised nearly $7 million and has been able to aid and give resources to victims of hate crimes, small businesses, various AAPI communities, and grassroot organizations.
In a heartfelt letter Lim wrote for FN’s Nov. 29 issue, Lim reflected on the past year and all that has happened in the community. He wrote that, “as a leader and with a platform, I feel a large sense of responsibility to do what it is right. It was never about putting myself forward, only the cause.”
Lim reiterated in the letter that it was never his intention to become an “activist,” nor does he consider himself one. “I’m just a human being who has been activated. It took years of trying to fit in, experiencing the constant ‘othering,’ racial microaggressions and always being referred to as the ‘Asian American’ designer to get me here. I’m an American and a human being,” he wrote.
For 35 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 2021 event is supported by presenting sponsor Nordstrom, as well as Authentic Brands Group, FDRA, Informa, On and Wolverine Worldwide.