Burak Cakmak, Dean at the School of Fashion at Parsons School of Design Interview


BY OBI ANYANWU

The path to building a better tomorrow begins today. More companies are moving away from creating exorbitant waste and harming the world, and placing more importance on the people over their profits. Education is necessary in every industry to ensure progress and a stable future, and Burak Cakmak, Dean of the School of Fashion at Parsons School of Design at The New School, is committed to educating the future.

“I decided to step away from the corporate world to bring the needs of industry and education closer together,” said Burak. “When I accepted the position, my goal was to continue Parsons’ tradition of excellence, while at the same time, expand programs and initiatives that address current, urgent social issues.”

Burak was named Dean of Fashion at Parsons in 2015 after working at Swarovski, Kering and Gap. He had an instrumental role in introducing fashion sustainability practices at the companies and at H&M, Tommy Hilfiger and Primark, among others.

While spearheading sustainability initiatives at top industry companies, Burak created scholarships at Parsons and Central Saint Martins in London, and he led the Swarovski Waterschool Initiative’s education program. Burak also served as a visiting professor at SKEMA Business School in France and China, which he considers to have been a learning experience.

I thought my time in the classroom would be a chance to educate students on the value of sustainable approaches to creating beautiful garments and running a retail business. I found, in fact, that the students at SKEMA also taught me—and it’s this inquisitive approach to fashion that I’ve brought with me to Parsons.

First established as the Chase School in 1896, Parsons School of Design is fostering the next great minds in art, design and fashion. Students at the School of Fashion are following in the footsteps of famed fashion designers Tom Ford, Marc Jacobs, Alexander Wang, Donna Karan and others that have attended the school. Under Burak, the students are being prepared to be the first generation to make better business the norm.

“I hope our students are inspired to disrupt the industries they go into, whether it’s fashion design, or other creative fields,” Burak said. “One of our recent graduates, Lucy Jones, is now designing clothing aimed at helping people of different abilities, which is an area of the industry that has not received enough attention in the past.”

The kids are all right, and they’re in good hands. That means the fashion industry and the world will be in even better hands in the future.