Burak Cakmak emphasizing sustainability at Parsons

Thursday, 27 August 2015

altThis month, Burak Cakmak will begin his tenure as the new Dean of Fashion at Parsons, The New School for Design, the design school known for producing Marc Jacobs, Donna Karan, Jason Wu, and Derek Lam. This is Cakmak's first entrance into the

world of academia, but, he already has some major plans for revamping the excellent design program. He succeeds Simon Collins who stepped down after six years. In his new role, Cakmak will be overseeing the programs in BFA Fashion Design, AAS degree programs in Fashion Design and Marketing, and the MFA in Fashion Design and Society.

Cakmak is new to the world of education, but, he is certainly no stranger to the world of fashion. He began his fashion career at Gap Inc. in 2000, where he was Senior Manage of Social Responsibility. In 2008, Cakmak moved to London where he was hired to spearhead sustainability for several of Kering's luxury brands including Gucci, Stella McCartney, and Bottega Veneta, as their first Director of Corporate Sustainability. Cakamak's most recent role was as Vice President of Corporate Sustainability at the Swarovski group.

Parsons to emphasize sustainability under new Dean

Given Cakmak's history of sustainability practices, it's no secret that he wants to promote sustainability in Parsons' programs as much as possible. “There’s a recognized need for sustainability, especially if you’re a large business. We’re at a point where there’s nowhere to hide. You can’t make excuses like ‘It’s not within my control,’ or ‘I didn’t know about it.’ There’s an expectation for all businesses to own up to their responsibilities and they have to go beyond that,” Cakmak was quoted saying to Business of Fashion. “What has been positively surprising to me is how much Parsons cares about the topic of sustainability. They try to implement this across the board and in very part of their education.”

altIn a survey conducted by Business of Fashion's Global Fashion School rankings, only 41 percent of students said they were satisfied with Parsons approach to sustainable teaching. Cakmak sees that as an unfortunate number that should change. One of his goals is to better define fashion education on a global level, in addition to teaching his students they have the ability to affect change through their work.

"Graduates play a key role in driving the fashion business," he went on to explain to Business of Fashion. They have the biggest opportunity to do things differently, because, unlike large companies and brands, they’re not constrained by their existing environments,” he says. “This is when we are able to really influence a designer, because once they get into the industry, it’s harder to make those changes.”