ACE Awards

The Accessories Council On Why the 22nd Annual ACE Awards Are So Special This Year

In Industry News, What's New by Lauren Parker, Accessories Magazine

By Karen Giberson, President, Accessories Council 

Karen Giberson at the 2017 ACE Awards

The Accessories Council “ACE” Awards (Accessories Council Excellence) were established 22 years ago to celebrate the designers, brands, influencers and leaders who have helped to define our industry. On Monday, June 11th we will host our most glamorous event of the year at Cipriani on 42nd street in New York City.

I am often asked how one wins an ACE Award. The planning for 2019 ACE Awards will start almost as soon as the 2018 event has concluded. It’s a year-long process and we spend much time discussing and contemplating our line-up. We encourage everyone to nominate candidates, then our board of directors reviews, narrows the lists and votes on the winners. We require that the winners be on hand to accept the awards. We also shift our award categories from year to year to reflect what’s happening in the industry.

We are very fortunate to have broad industry support and our attendees are the movers and shakers in the accessory, jewelry and footwear industries. We are most fortunate to have very generous sponsors.  I thank them for their support and enthusiasm:

ACE Awards

The Swarovski-encrusted ACE Award minaudiere

We welcome our lead sponsor, [pre]COTERIE and congratulate them for the launch of their new show.  We thank Tom Nastos and the entire UBM team for their partnership tonight and throughout the year.

Marchon Eyewear returns as our journal sponsor.  As a leading company in the optical space, along with their parent company VSP Global, the team is an integral part of the success of the Accessories Council.

Sperry is new to ACE and definitely will be providing some of our evenings WOW!  Check out their display in our cocktail area and keep your eyes open for some fun! We salute their efforts in the field of water conservation.

We are extremely grateful to Swarovski, a leader in the fashion jewelry space and long-time supporter of the ACE Awards and the Accessories Council.  It’s an honor to work with their dynamic team who brings a global perspective to the industry.

The team from Caleres is a dynamic group which manages an exciting roster of brands, their CEO, Diane Sullivan is a past ACE Award winner. We salute them and greatly appreciate their ideas and leadership.

We welcome back G-III! The list of brands they work with is highly impressive and their ongoing participation at ACE Awards helps to make our evening a success.

We thank the talented team from Judith Leiber Couture for making our beautiful ACE Awards!  We can’t think of a more fitting way to honor our winners, than with a beautiful minaudiere from this American luxury brand.  We mourn the recent passing of Mrs. Leiber, a past ACE winner and a true embodiment of creative spirit.

Our friends at LIM College, a school for the business of fashion, have been long time supporters of ACE.  We also enjoy working with LIM on our Next Generation Awards and encourage you to check out the talented students that graduate ready to work in our industry.

It’s been an honor to work with the esteemed team from Luxottica. A powerful force in the industry, this group has great passion and has long been a supporter of the Accessories Council both at ACE and beyond.

We welcome back Ross Stores for their second year at ACE.  Known for their high-quality brand offerings at great savings, we appreciate their commitment to the accessories categories.

Finally, a big thank you to Signal Brands, who not only are a sponsor of our night, but provided the lovely GUESS backpacks that our guests will receive.  We thank them for their generosity and for many years of support!


I am extremely excited about our 2018 winners. This diverse group of highly accomplished retailers, executives, designers and influencers have found ways to thrive in our rapidly changing retail environment. We applaud the hard work and accomplishments of all our winners. I wanted to provide some of our insights on why we selected this year’s honorees.

ACE Awards

Tracee Ellis Ross. Photo Maarten de Boer

Tracee Ellis Ross, Style Ambassador Award – Tracee’s is one of today’s leading actresses, but she is no stranger to the world of fashion.  Before she dazzled us on the small screen, she was a fashion model and a contributing magazine editor.  Before her ACE Award,  she was the winner of a Golden Globe Award, multiple NAACP Image Awards,  BET Comedy Award and nominated for many others.  Tracee is the whole package: smart, beautiful, funny and an amazing fashion influencer, we are honored to award her with our ACE Award for “Style Ambassador”.

Brooks Brothers, American Heritage Award—This is the first time we will bestow an award for “American Heritage”.  It seemed a fitting title for the company which is celebrating a 200th Anniversary this year!  Brooks Brothers, led by Claudio Del Vecchio has remained relevant, exciting and is beloved by its customers and the industry. This is an impressive milestone and are delighted to help celebrate.

ACE Awards

STORY’s Rachel Shechtman

STORY, Rachel Shechtman, Specialty Retailer Award—Who would think that when Rachel opened a small store in New York City on 10th Avenue that she would garner attention at an international level?!  Ever since her doors opened in 2011, Rachel has dazzled the industry with her fresh and innovative approach.  She changes her entire theme, product and look every few weeks—a complete new approach with new products, brands and displays.  This is a complicated task that is not for the timid!  Her themes have ranged from Made in America to Creative Workspaces.  She often hosts events in the space, is an active speaker who shares her insights and has gained love and respect of the entire retail community. As she begins her new role at Macy’s as the “Brand Experience Officer”,  we are honored to celebrate her success.

ACE Awards

Allbirds co-founders Tim Brown and Joey Zwillinger

Allbirds, Breakthrough Award—When Allbirds launched, they threw out the rule book on “how to launch a footwear company” and paved a new path to success.  Focusing on great quality, simple design and comfort they have quickly grown to be a powerhouse brand.  Allbirds embraces innovation from their materials, supply chain and approach to market.  And as a bonus, they are highly committed to using natural materials, protecting the environment and giving back along the way.  On a personal note, I own four pairs of Allbirds and am usually found walking the streets of NYC with my heels in my bag and Allbirds on my feet.

ACE Awards

The Jewelry Group’s Fran Lukas

The Jewelry Group, Business Excellence Award—About a year ago, a team of senior executives from The Jewelry Group pulled me aside and suggested that Fran Lukas, CEO would be a great candidate for an ACE Award.  Never before in my 14 years of planning ACE Awards, has a team come forward to nominate its leader.  This speaks volumes about the environment that Fran has created at The Jewelry Group. Though honored to be thought of, Fran accepted, but only on behalf of her team and the company. There are so few female leaders in our industry and it’s a privilege to be recognizing a team that I admire and respect.  Beyond leadership, The Jewelry Group has thrived in a tough environment with diverse brands, meaningful licenses and wonderful customer service.  It’s clear that her vendors and partners share the respect as many of them are attending ACE to share their honor.  We thank the team from The Jewelry Group for providing beautiful bracelets that will be at each place-setting this year.

ACE Awards

Sam and Libby Edelman

Sam & Libby Edelman, Hall of Fame Award—I first met Sam & Libby in the mid 1990’s when their ballet shoe was red hot.  I was a buyer and was instantly charmed by the creativity and enthusiasm of this dynamic duo.  It’s exciting to see how they have morphed their business over the years to adapt to the changing environment and needs of the customer.  The space that the Sam Edelman brand, a division of Caleres, is a dynamic space filled with creative energy and vibrant trend right product. While this duo may be receiving a “Hall of Fame”, we predict a long and successful road ahead.

ACE Awards

Theory’s Andrew Rosen

Andrew Rosen, Theory, Business Leadership Award—There are talkers and there are “doers”.  Andrew Rosen is a doer. I first witnessed Mr. Rosen in action at a meeting with the mayor’s office on how to keep New York City the world fashion headquarters and retain made in NYC manufacturing.  He is an active advocate for the industry, is a mentor and actively works with many leading designers.  He recently created Theory 2.0, which fosters the next generation of creative leadership.  Andrew is an inspiration to so many and we are honored to have him as part of our awards program.

Longchamp, Legacy Award—Celebrating their 70th Anniversary, Longchamp is a premier French Luxury company. Led by CEO Jean Cassegrain, son of the founder, this family run company is a global powerhouse and one of France’s leading leather goods makers. Their iconic nylon tote is an accessory stable and a must have item for any fashionable traveler!  Longchamp recently opened their Fifth Avenue flagship store and operates over 300 stores around the world. We predict many exciting years ahead for this beloved brand.

Kith founder Ronnie Fieg

KITH, Retail Influencer Award—When the self-made Ronnie Fieg opened his first KITH in 2011, he approached retail with an innovative spirit.  Known worldwide as a leader of cool, he created an exciting environment and unique shopping destination.  Whether you stop by for the debut of a new sneaker, one of their exclusive designer launches or a visit to the cereal bar, you won’t be disappointed! As athletics have so strongly influenced our market, it’s important to celebrate those who have paved a new path in the category.  We congratulate Ronnie and the entire team from Kith.

ACE Awards

Westfield Corp.

Westfield Corp., Retail Innovation Award—I recently toured the newly renovated Century City in Los Angeles and left truly excited about the future of brick and mortar shopping.  The space is truly special and very well designed.  The entire complex was filled with comfortable seating, an exciting mix of retail, restaurants, entertainment space and concierge service.  There was a brilliantly rigged stage area and an event schedule that was packed with high quality programming in many categories including the arts, beauty, health, wellness, custom products and happy hours.  And this is just one of their spaces! With over 30 centers in the United States alone, we are excited to watch them continue to reinvent the retail experience.

ACE Awards

Stylist Micaela Erlanger

Micaela Erlanger, Style Influencer Award- Micaela, is one of today’s hottest stylists and the author of a new book “How to Accessorize” (which happens to be the Accessories Council’s favorite topic).  Micaela is the go to stylist for the who’s who of famous faces. She is beloved by her clients and respected in the industry.  Her spot-on advice and knowledge is a culmination of natural talent and a lot of hard work.  Micaela started her career as an unpaid intern, sleeping on a relative’s couch and worked long hours to learn the business.  At a recent coffee with Micaela, which she squeezed in between fittings, I found her down to earth, immensely likeable and humble about her success.  I have no doubt that we will be seeing a lot more from this talented woman and encourage you all to get to get to know her. We predict big things ahead!


To learn more about our winners and the Accessories Council, please check out our ACE Event Journal

ACE Awards