American Apparel & Footwear Association Announces Inspiring Honorees to take Center Stage at the 2023 American Image Awards 

December 13, 2022 | WASHINGTON, D.C.
The American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA) announces an impressive slate of honorees for the 2023 American Image Awards Gala which will be held on Tuesday, April 25, 2023, at The Plaza Hotel in New York City. The annual event celebrates outstanding persons and companies for their leadership, excellence, and noteworthy achievements in all sectors of the apparel and footwear industry, bringing together the areas of design, manufacturing, retail, and social impact as one.

The 2023 honorees include: New Balance Athletics Inc. as Company of the Year; Willy Chavarria for Designer of the Year; Harlem’s Fashion Row for Fashion Maverick; and William McDonough for Eco-Steward of the Year. The event will be emceed by Segun Oduolowu for the third year and will once again benefit the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) Foundation marking the seventh year of philanthropic partnership.

Through all of its work around the globe, and culminating in this annual gala, AAFA promotes trusted trade partnerships; inspires more sustainable, traceable, and responsible supply chains; drives accountability, authenticity and innovation; and supports diversity, inclusion, and equal opportunity.

“AAFA members are building stronger relationships with their customers, employees, and supply chain partners than ever before. The visions, missions, and transformations of this year’s honorees shine a light on such advancements,” said Steve Lamar, president and CEO of AAFA. “This celebration recognizes some of the many ways our industry’s leaders have accelerated traceability and transparency efforts, innovated supply chains through U.S. manufacturing, and advanced goals for a more inclusive and responsible industry.”

New Balance Athletics Inc. – accepted by Joe Preston, President & CEO

Independent since 1906, New Balance Athletics Inc. makes its mission one of demonstrating responsible leadership. It is a global brand that athletes are proud to wear, associates are proud to create, and communities are proud to support. The privately held company is recognized for its values-led culture and long-standing commitment to domestic manufacturing. New Balance Athletics Inc. owns five factories in New England and one in Flimby, U.K. They employ more than 7,500 associates and have 3,500 retail locations around the globe, over $4.4 billion in annual sales.

President & CEO Joe Preston began his career with New Balance Athletics Inc. in 1995 and brings more than 25 years of experience in the footwear industry to his current position. He is a member of the Office of the US Trade Representative’s Advisory Committee, serves as Chair of the Board of Trustees for The Sports Museum, and is a board member of the American Apparel & Footwear Association, as well as the Two Ten Footwear Foundation.

William McDonough
- Architect, designer, advisor, thought leader, and sustainability pioneer

William McDonough is a globally recognized leader in sustainable design and development and is known as “the father of circularity.” Through McDonough Innovation, McDonough advises commercial and government leaders worldwide on ESG, sustainability, Circular Economy, and design of products and facilities. He has worked with companies such as DesignTex, Ralph Lauren and C&A on delivering safe and healthy products for the fashion and textile industry. He co-founded the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute, which administers the Cradle to Cradle Certified® Product Program, an independent, science-based, third-party, multi-attribute product standard recognized by the world’s leading retailers, including Amazon, Home Depot, Walgreens and Walmart.

McDonough has been active with the World Economic Forum for 25 years and served as the inaugural chair of WEF Meta-Council on the Circular Economy. He articulated the Circular Carbon Economy as a design framework at G20, 2020 and is developing a granular approach to applying Circular Carbon Economy principles to products. He has co-founded not-for-profit organizations, including the Sustainable Packaging Coalition, GreenBlue and Fashion for Good, a joint-industry initiative aiming to transform the global apparel supply chain into positive change. McDonough will be launching the McDonough Institute in early 2023. This institute will gather learnings, support talented individuals, develop critical innovation and accelerate planet- and people-positive sourcing and resourcing. Time magazine has recognized him as a “Hero for the Planet,” and in 2019 Fortune magazine named him one of the World's Greatest Leaders.

Willy Chavarria – Creative Director & Designer, Willy Chavarria

Willy Chavarria trained with a focus on commercial art and graphic design, launching his formal fashion career at the age of 21, when he joined former American Image Award Fashion Maverick Nicholas Graham on the creation of Joe Boxer. He went on to design for various brands, both established and emerging, before launching his eponymous brand in 2015. His mission became focused on raising the underrepresented through art and design. With each season, he aims to uplift and inspire, to be a voice for the voiceless, often partnering with organizations to promote social justice. Inspiration is taken from both biographical elements of Willy's life, often infusing nods to his Mexican-American heritage, and also from the beauty he sees in the streets and culture around him. His collections and images became known for their sensitive and cinematic approach, blending the emotion of art and modern politics into a reactionary story of the human will. For that, the brand received international attention and was carried in prestigious stores including Barneys, Dover Street Market, and Browns. Willy is now also the Senior Vice President, Design, Calvin Klein North America & Global Essentials Apparel (Men’s), a position he accepted in 2021.

Brandice Daniel, CEO of Harlem's Fashion Row for Fashion Maverick

Brandice Daniel is the founder and CEO of Harlem’s Fashion Row (HFR) which launched in 2007 to bridge the gap between multicultural designers and the fashion business. The organization provides opportunities for designers to showcase their skills and abilities in an industry that has often seemed non-accessible. Daniel herself has led collaborations with Banana Republic, Janie and Jack, American Girl, Nike, and Lebron James. The HFRxLBJ16 shoe was the first Lebron sneaker designed by and for women and sold out in less than five minutes. The entrepreneur has been featured in WWD, Harper’s Bazaar, NY Times, Good Morning America, ESSENCE Magazine, BET, Vogue, and has been a featured guest on Project Runway and the Drew Barrymore Show.

“The CFDA, through important programs and key partnerships such as with the AAFA, serves the needs of our American designer members and helps them advance their goals while continuing to provide social impact and philanthropic initiatives to better the American fashion industry at large. We thank the AAFA for the continued focus on our strong partnership and support of the CFDA Foundation, which is so crucial to our initiatives around health, safety, diversity, inclusion, and progress,” said Steven Kolb, CEO of the CFDA.

Additional information on the American Image Awards, including table purchases, can be found at

Supporters are encouraged to join the conversation using #AmericanImageAwards.

The American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA) is the national trade association representing apparel, footwear and other sewn products companies, and their suppliers, which compete in the global market. Representing more than 1,000 world famous name brands, AAFA is the trusted public policy and political voice of the apparel and footwear industry, its management and shareholders, its more than three million U.S. workers, and its contribution of $470 billion in annual U.S. retail sales. AAFA drives progress on three key priorities: Brand Protection; Supply Chain & Sourcing; and Trade, Logistics, & Manufacturing. AAFA approaches this work through the lens of purpose-driven leadership in a manner that supports each member’s ability to build and sustain inclusive and diverse cultures, meet and advance ESG goals, and draw upon the latest technology.

Owned and operated by AAFA for close to 50 years, the American Image Awards has been honoring those who have exemplified leadership, excellence, and outstanding achievement in all sectors of the apparel and footwear industry – including design, manufacturing, and retail. The American Image Awards Gala is the one event in the fashion industry each year where the worlds of design, manufacturing, and business intersect.

Past honorees include: Ralph Lauren Corp.; Gap; Inc.; Chip Bergh of Levi Strauss & Co; Disney; Kenneth Cole; Walmart; HanesBrands; Gabrielle Hearst; Brandon Maxwell; Prabal Gurung; Manny Chirico of PVH; Joseph Altuzarra; Fred Segal; Eileen Fisher; Camuto Group; Mansur Gavriel; ThirdLove; Andrew Rosen of Theory; Kenneth Cole; Stuart Vevers of Coach; Iris Apfel; Shinola Detroit; Bergdorf Goodman; Diane Von Furstenberg; Holt Renfrew; Li & Fung; QVC; Isaac Mizrahi; Saks Fifth Avenue; UGG Australia; the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, and many, many more...

The Council of Fashion Designers of America, Inc. (CFDA) is a not-for-profit trade association, whose membership consists of America’s foremost apparel, jewelry and accessory designers. CFDA Members include Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein, Michael Kors, Donna Karan, Diane Von Furstenberg, Alexander Wang, Carolina Herrera, Jason Wu, Proenza Schouler, Tom Ford, and more than 500 others. The CFDA Foundation is a separate not-for-profit organization, which was created to raise funds for charity and industry activities. Through innovative partnerships with brands, retailers, and CFDA designers, the Foundation is able to leverage fashion and effectively generate awareness and funds for these charitable causes.