What is “American fashion?” If designers like Anna Sui, Jason Wu, and Marc Jacobs have anything to say about it, those words are synonymous with Ralph Lauren.
The question was posed to attendees of WWD’s first-ever WWD Honors, recognizing leaders in the fashion and retail industry. Their first honoree, of course: Ralph Lauren.
First-Ever WWD Honors
(Photos: Photos: Abel Fermin / WWD/REX/Shutterstock)
And what a night. The room was a “who’s who” of notables, from Anna Sui, Jason Wu, and Marc Jacobs to John Varvatos and Carolina Herrera. But the focus of the evening was the boy from the Bronx who built a necktie line into a $7.5 billion global empire — who, incredibly, will soon be entering his 50th year in business.
Asked by WWD 10 years ago about his achievements, Lauren said:”This is not work. It’s passion, and it’s love.”
This is not work. It’s passion.
Lauren was recipient of WWD’s inaugural John B. Fairchild honor, recognizing a career of influence and distinction. The accolade was named after John B. Fairchild, the brilliant and mischievous editor who transformed WWD — and the fashion industry — by bringing designers to the forefront while focusing on “society” as well.
According to WWD editor-in-chief Ed Nardoza, the new honors “will provide WWD with a platform to acknowledge real achievement and accomplishment, especially at a time when the fashion industry is facing the challenges of digitization, globalization, overheated celebrity, and unpredictable consumer behavior. We’re especially proud to establish a lasting honor in Mr. Fairchild’s name. And there isn’t a more deserving person than Ralph Lauren, whose incredible career Fairchild has chronicled every step of the way, from that first wide necktie.”
“We’re especially proud to establish a lasting honor in Mr. Fairchild’s name,” said WWD’s editor-in-chief Ed Nardoza.
Alongside Ralph Lauren, some true power names within the retail/consumer space were honored as well:
Christian Dior CEO Sidney Toledano took home the CEO/Creative Leadership Award for building Dior into a global powerhouse amid the ever-changing luxury market.
Inditex (owner of Zara) was honored for Corporate Citizenship, an award accepted by Felix Poza Peña, Corporate Social Responsibility Director, and Nacho Mora, Corporate Social Responsibility.
Pandora A/S CEO Anders Colding Friis accepted the award for Best-Performing Company-Large Cap for his company, while Jeffrey Fowler, CEO of Farfetch UK, accepted the award for Best-Performing Company-Small Cap.
This night felt like a true testament to longevity of icons within fashion: a blend of new and old personnel who have brought the fashion and retail industry into a new age: where digital is now a part of the landscape, but the art of clothing still takes center stage.