The Early Days: A Look Back at FN Achievement Awards of Years Past

It’s the shoe industry’s biggest night.

The FN Achievement Awards, often called the “Oscars of Shoes,” brings together top names from around the industry for a celebratory night honoring the best designers, brands, retailers, shoes and new talents.

Since its beginnings in 1986, the awards show has grown in scale: Five awards were given out at the first-ever FNAAs, compared with 15 honorees this year. It has also evolved from a cozy breakfast into a buzz-filled red carpet extravaganza.

The early days had no shortage of star power, however. In 1989, Sam and Libby Edelman received their first-ever FNAA for Company of the Year (Sam & Libby). The duo was named People of the Year in 1991.

Footwear News Achievement Awards, fnaas, libby, sam edelman
Libby and Sam Edelman at the FNAAs in 1991.
CREDIT: FN Archives

In the years since, Sam Edelman has twice won Brand of the Year (2009 and 2012). Sam and Libby Edelman were co-inducted into FN’s Hall of Fame in 2015.

Sam Edelman, Libby Edelman , Jesse Edelman, FNAAs 2015, Red Carpet Arrivals
(L-R): Sam Edelman, Libby Edelman and Jesse Edelman at the 2015 FNAAs.
CREDIT: Shutterstock

Before he was chairman of the Council of Fashion Designers of America, Inc., Tom Ford received the Designer of the Year award in 1995.

tom ford, fnaas, Footwear News Achievement Awards
Tom Ford at the 1995 FNAAs.
CREDIT: FN Archives

Another magical moment took place at the 11th annual FNAAs in 1997, where Manolo Blahnik (now a five-time FNAA winner) was inducted into the Hall of Fame. He sat poker-faced next to Vogue editor Andre Leon Talley as he collected his second FNAA. His first was the 1992 Designer of the Year honor.

Footwear News Achievement Awards, fnaas, manolo blahnik, alt, andre leon talley
Andre Leon Talley (L) and Manolo Blahnik at the FNAAs in 1997.
CREDIT: FN Archives

Previous winners include Anne Klein (1989 Designer of the Year), Nike founder Phil Knight (1989 Person of the Year) and Ralph Lauren (1993 Designer of the Year).

This year’s FNAAs take place Dec. 3 at the IAC Building in New York. Among the honorees are Person of the Year Kerby Jean-Raymond, Designer of the Year Amina Muaddi and Collaborator of the Year Tommy Hilfiger.

Click through the gallery to see more highlights from the FNAAs over the years.

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