The Femmy Awards returned to Manhattan’s Cipriani 42nd Street Tuesday night after a two-year, pandemic-induced hiatus. More than 300 people slipped out of their sleepwear and put on their fanciest attire as they flocked to the swanky Midtown venue for a night of drinks, dinner and dancing hosted by rock band Betty.
“The energy is amazing,” Tina Wilson, president of the nonprofit organization the Underfashion Club, as well as vice president and creative director of Hue Brands, told WWD. “Seeing so many people that I haven’t seen in two-and-a-half years, everyone is so happy and everyone is so excited.”
The coveted Femmy Awards and gala, which is produced by the Underfashion Club, is an annual fundraiser that honors leaders in the intimate apparel industry. Proceeds from the event support student scholarships.
“The last time we met was just before we realized what was going on,” Wilson added, referring to the February 2020 Femmy Awards, which took place in New York a month before U.S. lockdowns began. “But it’s a new energy [now]. Even the honorees — there are new categories, new ways of looking at the world, looking at our industry.”
Those categories and award winners include Rihanna’s Savage x Fenty intimates apparel brand, which was honored with the “brand disruptor award”; sock and underwear brand Bombas, which received the “humanitarian award” for its work donating socks and other apparel to the homeless; market research firm The NPD Group, which took home the “industry science award”, and innerwear start-up Parade, which received the “rising star award.” In addition, the Komar family — which makes sleepwear and lingerie under such brands as Anne Klein, Ellen Tracy, Le Mystère, On Gossamer and Carole Hochman — was honored with the “generations award.”
“These are the strengths that will carry us into the future as an industry,” Wilson told the crowd — which included founders, chief executive officers and other senior leadership members from brands such as Cosabella, Commando, Chantelle, Delta Galil, Wacoal, Natori, Panty Promise and Eurovet Americas, the company that produces the Curve trade shows — as they sipped cocktails and nibbled on their three-course meals.
“There was a little bit more of an edge of excitement tonight to see people,” said Kerry O’Brien, Commando founder, CEO and lead designer, who arrived with her husband in tow. “People want to see each other, hug each other, talk to each other, look each other in the eye.
“It’s been three years,” she added.
Kristen Classi-Zummo, director and industry analyst covering fashion apparel at market research firm The NPD Group, agreed.
“It’s exciting to be back here in person and to see everyone all dressed up and to have a night out,” she said.
Marshal Cohen, chief industry adviser of The NPD Group, accepted the firm’s “industry science award” with a speech from his avatar and a trip through the metaverse, while Rihanna made a surprise appearance by way of prerecorded video.
“We got a Femmy dude,” the megastar and new mom said on screen. “On behalf of the entire Savage x Fenty family, we are truly honored to be recognized. This would be impossible without your passion and hard work. And to our clients, you are the muses of this brand. So thank you for inspiring us, always. And more to come.”
Christiane Pendarvis, copresident and chief merchandising and design officer for Savage x Fenty, added at the event that a Femmy is a “huge honor” for the four-year-old business.
“We’re incredibly proud to be recognized by the industry,” she told WWD. “It’s great to have validation from consumers and to see people get excited about your brand. But it’s sort of a different level when the industry that you’re a part of also takes notes. It feels almost more special in some respects.”
Cami Téllez, founder and CEO of underwear start-up Parade, echoed Pendarvis’ sentiments.
“I’ve probably worked here the least amount of time than anyone else in the room and I’m really excited that I’m here now after three years in the industry,” said Téllez, who took home the “rising star award.” “We’re at a point where we feel very honored to keep contributing to the category.”
The 2021 Fashion Institute of Technology student design contest winners were also recognized at the event.
Charlie Komar, CEO of Komar Brands, and David Komar, chief marketing officer of Komar Brands (who are also cousins), took the stage together to accept the final award of the evening, the “generations award.”
“It’s really wonderful to be in a room filled with all these people from our industry,” David Komar told the crowd. “It’s been a very long time since we’ve been in a room like this. We’ve been on Zoom; we’ve been separate. [Now] we get to dress up. We get to wear pants — not pajamas — which cuts both ways for us.”
This year’s award show also marks the Underfashion Club’s 64th anniversary. The event ended with a DJ set, take-home Savage x Fenty robes and dancing into the late-night hours.
“I’m so excited to be here because I’m just now getting introduced to this world and I love that it’s such a deep culture,” said Roman Sipe, creative director of the men’s division and Cosabella and Journelle. “And to be at an awards show that is just focused on an industry that I’m so in love with is just amazing.”