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2023 American Image Awards Honoring Willy Chavarria

Willy Chavarria

As part of their annual celebration of outstanding persons and companies in the fashion industry, the American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA) announced that they will be honoring Willy Chavarria as the 2023 Designer of the Year. The rising mega-star first made his debut in fashion at the age of 21 when he joined Nicholas Graham — former American Image Award Fashion Maverick — on the launch of Joe Boxer.

“Willy Chavarria’s poetic expression never shies away from advocacy through art,” said Steve Lamar, President and CEO of AAFA. “His poise and influence in this space is an inspiration.”

In 2015, Chavarria launched his eponymous brand with the mission of raising the underrepresented through art and design. His collection often makes statements and incorporates messaging around social justice. Empowering and expressive, his designs are imbued with a sense of drama, excitement, and comedy through color, silhouette, and fabrication. In the years since its debut, Chavarria’s menswear collection has been applauded by the press and featured in top fashion magazines such as VogueThe New York TimesFantastic Man, and Hypebeast.

Willy Chavarria AAFA

Willy Chavarria

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 the designer’s life, often infusing nods to his Mexican American heritage, and from the beauty he sees in the streets and culture around him. He’s even known for pulling people off the streets to model instead of hiring through traditional agencies. 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 Bergdorf Goodman, Far Fetch, Barneys, Dover Street Market, and Browns. Pieces of the collection have also been collected by the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Willy Chavarria is now also the Senior Vice President, Design, Calvin Klein North America & Global Essentials Apparel (Men’s), a position he accepted in 2021.

In addition to Willy Chavarria’s honor as Designer of the Year, the American Image Awards will also be celebrating the work of New Balance Athletics Inc. as Company of the Year; Harlem’s Fashion Row for Fashion Maverick; William McDonough for Eco-Steward of the Year; and Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Director-General of the World Trade Organization, as Global Vanguard. The event will be emceed by Segun Oduolowu and will benefit the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) Foundation marking the seventh year of philanthropic partnership with the AAFA.

The Awards Gala which will be held on Tuesday, April 25, 2023, at The Plaza Hotel in New York City. 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.

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


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.

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 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.

Bejeweled Young Fellows Ball at The Frick Madison

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