The American Apparel & Footwear Association hosted its 2023 American Image Awards Tuesday night at New York’s Plaza Hotel, honoring some of the fashion industry’s key leaders and advocates.
Menswear designer Willy Chavarria received his latest accolade at the awards and was honored with the designer of the year award. Chavarria was honored alongside New Balance Athletics Inc., which received the company of the year award; Harlem’s Fashion Row, which received the Fashion Maverick award; the World Trade Organization’s director general Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, who received the inaugural Global Vanguard award; and William McDonough, who received the eco-steward of the year award.
“It says so much about all of us today and so much about our industry and how we’ve grown to recognize someone like me,” Chavarria said during his acceptance speech. “Someone with a mission like mine and someone who really cares about the impacts we can have on society with a renewed look at human dignity, which is what the foundation of my brand actually is. It is beautiful, I’d have to say, but the foundation is really about lifting people up and that is really why I started doing this.”
He went on to explain the deeper purpose of his namesake fashion label, stating: “I discovered my place in fashion after some years of working within the industry, developing my skills and learning about this industry, but, it wasn’t until later in life that I realized my purpose, and my purpose was to create change — to use what we do to make people think and feel better about ourselves.”
Prior to the evening’s programming, Chavarria reflected on his fall 2023 ready-to-wear show from February, stating the couture-heavy collection is indicating a new direction for his label. He also stated that his fall collection, which he will be selling at Bergdorf Goodman, plus his spring 2023 rtw collection have helped accelerate his made-to-order business.
“With the growth going up in my brand, so has my skill grown and my passion and my desire to use the most beautiful fabrics and the most beautiful silhouettes and really showing my work at the highest level of fashion I can,” he said. “[The spring] show really showed my skill to more people on a much larger scale, so since that, recognition has started to accelerate. It’s kind of given me more ambition to do better and better — to push my own boundaries.”
This story was reported by WWD and originally appeared on WWD.com.