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AAFA to Honor Levi’s Chip Bergh, Gap Inc. and More

Leaders in denim and sustainability are among the honorees for The American Apparel & Footwear Association’s 2022 American Image Awards.

“Sustainability—and really all elements of ESG—is at the core of everything we do in today’s apparel and footwear industry. This includes our consideration of honorees for the American Image Awards,” said Steve Lamar, president and CEO of AAFA. “It is no longer enough to say that your company values sustainability. Today’s employees and consumers look at our actions, both individually and collectively, and how they will improve our world. This year’s honorees are leading the industry forward on sustainable practices, and we are excited to celebrate their efforts during one of our industry’s most exciting nights.”

Chip Bergh, president and CEO of Levi Strauss & Co., is  “Person of the Year.” A two-time Rivet 50 honoree and named one of the “World’s Greatest Leaders” by Fortune Magazine in 2019, Bergh has led the heritage denim company’s turnaround and global expansion since 2011, as well as its sustainable journey. In 2021, Levi’s announced it would introduce a circular 501 jeans, increased its use of cotton-alternatives like hemp and Circulose and established a pilot program for Stony Creek Color’s plant-based pre-reduced indigo.

The honor for “Company of the Year” goes to Gap Inc., to be accepted by CEO Sonia Syngal. With brands Gap, Old Navy, Banana Republic and Athleta, the company’s fiscal year 2020 net sales were $13.8 billion.

In addition to inking a deal with Balenciaga for Gap’s Yeezy collaboration, the company made news in 2021 when Old Navy bowed Bodyequality, a game-changing omnichannel shopping experience that aims to democratize its fit process and how women of all shapes and sizes shop for fashion.

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The Ellen MacArthur Foundation, which spearheaded the widely adopted Jeans Redesign guidelines, is named “Eco Steward of the Year.” The Foundation’s Fashion Initiative is leading international efforts to stop waste and pollution by creating a circular economy for the industry, where products are used more, are made from safe, recycled, or renewable inputs.

Prabal Gurung is  “Designer of the Year.” The women’s wear designer recognizes the importance of domestic production, choosing to manufacture his eponymous luxury brand in New York City.

The honor for “Fashion Maverick” goes to digitally native intimates brand ThirdLove, accepted by co-founder and CEO Heidi Zak. Known for its Fit Finder quiz, the bra, underwear and now activewear company provides customers with a 3-D fit and style experience through its virtual fitting room.

“The American Image Awards has always been about excellence and achievement. In a new climate—both the realities of a global pandemic and the increasingly challenging business and environmental realities—innovation and stewardship continue to remain paramount,” Lamar said. “The 2022 honorees are truly trailblazers who galvanize their employees and their peers across this industry’s far-reaching supply chains to ensure impactful contributions to the American and global economies, to our stakeholder community, and the future of fashion.”

The awards will take place at The Plaza Hotel in New York City on April 26.