The American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA) Board of Directors today unanimously approved a new mission statement and strategic plan to guide AAFA’s priorities, operations, and accomplishments into the future. The vote, held today at the semi-annual meeting of the AAFA Board of Directors in Washington, D.C., follows a year-long planning and development process led by a Board-appointed steering committee and with the support of AAFA executive leadership and staff.

“For more than ten years, AAFA has stood as the primary advocacy and education organization for the apparel and footwear industry in Washington, D.C.,” said AAFA Board of Directors Chairman Rick Darling, Vice-Chairman of LF USA and LF Europe. “In a time marked by an uncertain political climate and uncertain economic outlook, this new strategic plan represents an ambitious, comprehensive, and forward-thinking approach to the ever-widening issues confronting the industry.”

“As an industry leader, I count on AAFA to mitigate political risks and regulatory challenges for my company,” said AAFA Board of Directors Vice Chairman and Strategic Plan Steering Committee Chairman Philip Williamson, Chairman, President and CEO of Williamson-Dickie Manufacturing Company. “The industry faces more challenges today that threaten our success. This strategic plan offers a clear plan of attack for AAFA in promoting the apparel and footwear industry in the global market.”

“As AAFA begins the next three years of achieving progress for the industry, our continued success will be marked by our ability to maintain our sterling reputation, strengthen our voice, and remain relevant to our members,” said AAFA President and CEO Kevin M. Burke. “Our new strategic plan and mission statement provides for an ambitious approach to achieving AAFA’s primary goal of creating opportunities and overcoming challenges for the U.S. apparel and footwear industry, like reducing barriers to trade, protecting intellectual property, and protecting the Berry Amendment for domestic manufacturers.”

AAFA spent the last year overhauling its organizational priorities to better fit the “We Wear®” brand and to more effectively meet tomorrow’s business challenges. AAFA’s new strategic plan puts into place forward-looking priorities that will amplify AAFA’s political voice, foster collaboration on a global scale, and grow AAFA’s membership base.
A New AAFA Mission Statement
When drafted more than ten years ago, AAFA’s mission statement was an accurate reflection of the prevailing economic and political environments of the day. As the scope of AAFA’s work has expanded over the past few years, AAFA’s mission statement was refreshed to provide stronger direction for the years to come.
At its core, the revised mission statement provides solid direction in guiding AAFA forward in assisting the membership base as it identifies workable solutions to the political, legislative, and regulatory issues that are now present in nearly every business decision.

The cornerstone of this strategic plan is AAFA’s new mission statement, which reads, “AAFA stands at the forefront as a leader of positive change for the apparel and footwear industry. With integrity and purpose, AAFA delivers a unified voice on key legislative and regulatory issues. AAFA enables a collaborative forum to promote best practices and innovation. AAFA’s comprehensive work ensures the continued success and growth of the apparel and footwear industry, its suppliers, and its customers.

AAFA will achieve this mission by:
  • Building consensus and offering actionable solutions for global trade, social responsibility, sustainability, product safety, intellectual property, and government procurement issues to promote a globally competitive industry.
  • Leading the way in professional development, networking, and continuing industry education through a rigorous and comprehensive training curriculum enabling the industry to stay ahead of tomorrow’s challenges.
  • Providing members with valuable intelligence to make smart business decisions that enhance profitability and mitigate risk.
  • Communicating the goals and needs of the industry to deepen the public’s understanding and knowledge about the industry.
    To learn more about AAFA’s new mission statement and strategic plan, visit the AAFA website at

Appointed by the AAFA Board of Directors Executive Committee, the Strategic Plan Steering Committee was comprised of a broad and diverse cross section of apparel and footwear industry leaders. This core group of leaders provided the AAFA staff with valuable guidance in creating the strategic plan. Because the strategic plan is intended to serve as a living document, Strategic Plan Steering Committee members will continue to contribute to AAFA’s overall strategic path in pursuit of AAFA’s mission.

Steering Committee members include: Rick Darling, Vice-Chairman of LF USA and LF Europe, Philip Williamson, Chairman, President, and CEO of Williamson-Dickie Manufacturing Company, Rick Helfenbein, President of TellaS Ltd., Luen Thai USA, Rob DeMartini, President and CEO of New Balance Athletic Shoe, Inc., Kurt Cavano, Chairman and Founder of TradeCard, Inc., Alan Colman, CEO of ATSCO Footwear LLC, and Katherine Gold, President and CEO of Gold Bug.
We Wear® Our Mission
Representing more than 1,000 world famous name brands, the AAFA is the trusted public policy and political voice of the apparel and footwear industry, its management and shareholders, its four million U.S. workers, and its contribution of $350 billion in annual U.S. retail sales.
In 2011, AAFA began the challenge of better positioning the organization in support of the evolving needs of its members. AAFA launched the “We Wear®” brand identity in an attempt to change the conversation in Washington about an industry that thrives and creates jobs because of imports.