“Welcome to the family,” FN editorial director Michael Atmore said at the kick-off of the 36th annual FN Achievement Awards, while highlighting first-time honorees Lululemon, Jessica Rich, Dua Lipa and Billy Walsh.
The FNAAs, which were held on Nov. 30, at Cipriani South Street in New York, once again celebrated the biggest success stories of the industry.
And indeed, the theme of family was prevalent throughout the star-studded evening, which featured special guests including Idris and Sabrina Elba, Fergie, Sugar Ray Leonard, Nicky Hilton and Jordin Sparks.
At times the sense of family was literal. For instance, when Person of the Year, Dr. D’Wayne Edwards was presented with the award by his two daughters, D’on Lauren Edwards and Dior Edwards. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house as the sisters shared their deep admiration for their father and his work establishing the country’s first HBCU to focus on design: the Pensole Lewis College of Business & Design.
Edwards kept the tears flowing when he quoted Mark Twain: “There are two important days in your life: the day you were born and the day discover why. Those two ladies are my why.”
But as many people pointed out during the awards show, the footwear industry itself is a close-knit group.
“We’re all family here. That’s how it feels in the shoe industry,” said Michael Greenberg, president of Skechers USA Inc. while accepting the 2022 Company of the Year award. “What makes it special is that we give back, we take care of one another and we care about one another. That’s a beautiful thing. So this is like a big family dinner party at one of our houses.”
Reflecting on the interconnections, Greenberg recalled working with Edwards at LA Gear in the early ’90s and paying sales calls to Hall of Fame honoree Scott Meden at Nordstrom during that same era. “I think you kept throwing me out,” he said to Meden with a laugh.
Throughout the night, honorees and guests reflected on their deep ties to each other and the support, inspiration and encouragement they’ve received from partners and colleagues in the business.
Jordan Brand partner Carmelo Anthony spoke about his pride in being part of that organization, which was recognized as Brand of the Year. “I’ve been part of the Jordan Brand family for 20 years, I’ve seen it go from here to here,” Anthony said, making a gesture with his hands to signify the company’s growth. “I’ve had the honor to work with teams over the years, being able to collaborate and design and really get the chance to understand the message behind what we do at Jordan Brand.”
Hip-hop star Nelly was full of praise for Caleres chairman and CEO as he helped induct her into the FN Hall of Fame. “I definitely want to thank Diane and Caleres and everybody at the company for doing such an amazing job for St. Louis, for always supporting the communities and for always giving back,” he said.
Meanwhile, Ronnie Fieg, founder of Kith, the 2022 Retailer of the Year, explained how personal relationships are at the heart of his incredibly successful company. “I believed in building homes for all those who wanted to see product and have those products presented to them on a personal level, and that would help build relationships that have lasted over a decade. Those bonds between the brands and who we consider our family members are single handedly the reason I jump out of bed in the morning.”
Few honorees could resist the opportunity to show their appreciation for design legend Christian Louboutin, the Lifetime Achievement honoree (who renamed it the Great Time Achievement Award).
Designer of the Year Amina Muaddi concluded her acceptance speech this way: “Thank you so much. I admire so many of the people in this room and I’m honored to be in this room with them — and especially you,” she said, looking toward Louboutin. “You are one of my icons.”
And Emerging Talent Award winner Jessica Rich expressed her gratitude as well. “Thank you so much for supporting my brand and allowing me the chance to be a designer among some of the designers I admire most in the world: Christian Louboutin and Amina Muaddi. It’s an honor to be on the floor with you.”
For 36 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 2022 event is supported by presenting sponsor Nordstrom, as well as Caleres, FDRA, Merrell, Vibram and Volumental.