Rick Helfenbein is to step down as president and CEO of the American Apparel & Footwear Association at the end of this year – with AAFA executive vice president Stephen Lamar stepping into the role.

Helfenbein, who will leave his post on 31 December, has been engaged with the AAFA for 14 years – ten as a member that included two as chairman of the board of directors, and four as president and CEO.

Following his departure, current executive vice president Stephen Lamar will become the association's president and CEO on 1 January 2020.

"Rick Helfenbein has been a true friend and advocate for the apparel and footwear industry; on behalf of the board of directors, I would like to express our sincere gratitude for his service and leadership," says AAFA chairman Gary Simmons. "Rick has led us through some of the most disruptive periods in recent memory – from the disastrous border adjustment tax to today's trade war with one of our most important trading partners. Throughout this time, he has advised the industry with charm and wit.

"At the same time, we are very excited to promote Stephen Lamar to the role of president and CEO. Many in the industry and policymaking community have grown to depend on Stephen's expertise on how policies impact the industry. His foresight of potential risks and opportunities is unmatched. The board is confident that he will bring continued success to the industry in this role."

Lamar has more than 21 years of experience with the association, having served most of this time as executive vice president overseeing lobbying and association activities.

"I am honoured and excited to take on the role of president and CEO," he says. "In particular, I am grateful to Rick for his leadership and partnership through the years, and thankful to the board for its vote of confidence.

"With more than US$400bn in annual US retail sales and an employment footprint of nearly four million Americans, apparel and footwear companies are a major part of the US economy. I look forward to working with our team in Washington, and our members throughout the country, to achieve future wins and ensure that this industry can continue to grow and thrive."

Helfenbein adds: "It has been an honour and a privilege to serve as the leader of the American Apparel & Footwear Association. During my time as a member, I learned the essential work we do in Washington, and around the world. It is with this background that I was able to prioritise initiatives and engage with our 1,000-plus brands. I am thrilled that the board has chosen Stephen – whose passion for the industry and understanding of Washington is immeasurable."

Click here to read Helfenbein's latest op-ed on just-style in which he explains the industry's concern at the likely impact of the latest tariff manoeuvring, both now and into the future.