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This year marks the 16th consecutive year that Swarovski has partnered with the CFDA as its headlining sponsor at last night’s CFDA Awards, which featured the inaugural Swarovski Award for Positive Change. Accessories took a closer look at what the award means and the history of this longstanding partnership.

The Award

The CFDA Swarovski Award for Positive Change was founded to reflect the American fashion industry’s honorable propensity toward giving back to the world around them in the context of Swarovski’s heritage in philanthropy. The Award serves to shine a light on the positive contributions by American talent this year and in the future.

The Recipient

In its first year, Swarovski chose Kenneth Cole as the first recipient. The award acknowledges his commitment and advocating for AIDS research since the 1980s when the disease was stigmatized as the “gay virus,” those affected by it were marginalized and few dared to discuss it openly. Cole courageously began to change this, addressing AIDS in his pioneering brand campaigns and joining  amfAR’s board in 1987. He also has donated over 2 million pairs of shoes to the homeless. He built a health center in Haiti. In his first five years as amfAR’s chairman, he doubled the nonprofit’s size. The list of inspiring accomplishments goes on and on.

For Cole, this philanthropy isn’t a side project. He sees it as his mission in life and like few other designers, Cole has used his voice to make a social, political, and societal statement. His brand has changed the game with a New Yorker’s in-your-face approach to herald positive change.


As for Swarovski’s involvement, the company was built with the belief that business should have not only its employees’ wellbeing at heart but also that of the environment and society as a whole.

“Swarovski has a long history of philanthropy woven into our DNA. And it’s with that spirit that we wanted to celebrate this industry’s propensity for giving back,” said Nadja Swarovski, Member of the Swarovski Executive Board. “The CFDA Swarovski Award for Positive Change was created because positive change is the pinnacle of excellent design. And this year, with the Emerging Talent Award, we’ve identified those designers pushing boundaries across multiple categories. These designers are the visionaries of tomorrow and we’re proud to champion them today.”

Some of the company’s philanthropic endeavors include the Swarovski Foundation, set up in 2013 to honor the philanthropic spirit of Daniel Swarovski. The Foundation’s mission is to build on his heritage by supporting charitable initiatives and organizations working in three areas: fostering culture and creativity, promoting wellbeing and conserving natural resources.

Swarovski has also worked to develop sustainability strategies focusing on five themes: conscious design, sustainable innovation, empowering women, water stewardship and fair supply chain partnerships.