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I have the best job in the world - Designer of the Year Wes Gordon at American Image Awards

By Jackie Mallon


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2024 AAFA American Image Awards Credits: Slaven Vlasic for Getty Images

The American Image Awards welcomed leaders and advocates across the apparel and footwear industries on Tuesday night for a gala dinner of halibut, specialty cocktail, the Dusty Rose, and an awards ceremony in the auspicious Gotham Hall which is celebrating its centenary this year. Todd Snyder sipped champagne and chatted near the bar, having dressed the emcee, Boston Globe Today’s Segun Oduolowu in his chic beige suit, while luminaries including fellow designers Cynthia Rowley and Michelle Ochs lit up the red carpet outside. For the eighth year, the Council of Fashion Designers of America is the event’s charitable beneficiary and CEO Steven Kolb said in his speech, “The American Image Awards are an outstanding event and always a great night to reflect on the opportunities we’ve created together in partnership with the AAFA leadership.”

For nearly 50 years the awards have been owned and operated by the American Apparel and Footwear Association, the national trade association representing apparel, footwear and other sewn products companies, and their suppliers, which compete in the global market. The association represents more than 1,000 world famous name brands while the annual gala is about honoring members who have exemplified leadership, excellence, and outstanding achievement.

2024 AAFA American Image Awards Credits: Slaven Vlasic for Getty Images

Carhartt among brands accepting awards for achievement at American Image Awards

This year’s honorees included Carhartt for Company of the Year. The Detroit-based family-owned workwear giant founded in 1889 is truly having a moment with an appeal that runs the gamut from luxury shoppers—for fall it collaborated with Paris Fashion Week mainstay Sacai on its runway pieces - to streetwear and skate fans, while its core business is still about clothing registered forklift operators and construction workers. There really isn’t another brand with such heritage combined with such broad appeal, and accepting the award this evening was Danilo Amoretty, Senior Vice President of Global Product Supply and Operations.

Person of the Year award went to Lizanne Kindler, Executive Chair and CEO, KnitWell Group, a multi-brand retail operating company comprised of Ann Taylor, Haven Well Within, Lane Bryant, LOFT and Talbots. The Trailblazer of the Year award went to Allan Ellinger, Senior Managing Partner, MMG Advisors, a 35-year-old investment banking advisory practice focused on the fashion and consumer product sector. Eco-Steward of the Year was presented to Federica Marchionni, CEO Global Fashion Agenda, a Danish non-profit organization with the ultimate vision to create a net positive fashion industry for the people and the planet across the entire eco-system. While the evening is about networking it is also celebrating existing connections, and there was a special shoutout to Ralph Lauren Corporation and Ferrara Manufacturing whose representatives took to the stage to offer insights into their 34-year relationship, while Ferrara Manufacturing also detailed its history of producing pieces for the US armed forces and US Olympic team.

Wes Gordon, Creative Director, Carolina Herrera, won Designer of the Year. The Atlanta-raised, London-trained Gordon took the reins at Herrera seven years ago at the request of the legendary designer herself, leading global creative strategy across ready-to-wear, fragrance, beauty, and eyewear for the luxury house. He knew what he was stepping into and held great admiration for all that Caroline Herrera had built. "This was New York's premier house of elegance, a cornerstone of Seventh Avenue fashion." So he put his eponymous line on hiatus in order to assume the role but without regret, and he reflected on both his good fortune and the humbleness of his beginnings in his acceptance speech. “You can’t start a law firm when you graduate from law school, you can’t go to med school and start a hospital, but bizarrely you can start a fashion line when you graduate art school,” he said, “And I did just that, sleeping on an air mattress in a studio that was a live/work space downtown. It was an amazing eight years.”

Gordon thanked his husband for being there for him during the sleepless nights and bouts of impostor syndrome; his parents for their unwavering support since he first told them that fashion was what he wanted to do; the president of Carolina Herrera, Emilie Rubinfeld; and Mrs Herrera herself. “I have the greatest job in the world,” he said.

American Image Awards
Carolina Herrera
Wes Gordon