Burak Cakmak to lead Saudi Arabia’s new Fashion Commission

The former dean of fashion from Parsons School of Design in New York will lead the new organisation

NEW YORK, NY - MAY 22: Burak Cakmak speaks on stage during the 69th Annual Parsons Benefit at Pier 60 on May 22, 2017 in New York City.   Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images for The New School/AFP (Photo by Jamie McCarthy / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP)

Burak Cakmak will head Saudi Arabia's new Fashion Commission, Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Culture has announced.

Cakmak was formerly the dean of fashion at Parsons School of Design in New York City from 2015 to 2020.

As the new chief executive for the commission, Cakmak will be tasked with providing a strategy to shape, nurture and grow the fledgling fashion market within the kingdom.

He will be responsible for developing a structure to support emerging talents, industry professionals and entrepreneurs, as well as encouraging investment and finance in the sector.

Such is the fledgling state of the industry at present, Cakmak will also be involved with defining laws and regulations within the new field, as well as developing educational and professional programmes to support existing and future generations of designers.

Cakmak has a lot of experience to bring to his new role. His career in the fashion industry began in 2000, when he was Gap Inc's senior manager of social responsibility. He also led sustainability strategies for luxury group Kering's brands and, prior to working at Parsons, he was vice president for corporate responsibility at Swarovski, and has been a member of the advisory board of the Council of Fashion Designers of America.

He also acted as a sustainability consultant for the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development.

Cakmak attended the Fashion Futures conference, the kingdom's first large-scale runway event, which took place in Riyadh in January 2020. Speaking to WWD at the time, he explained that while the show may have been small by western standards, "few Saudi's could have ever imagined something of this scale happening in their own country. It was a demonstration that Saudis can rise to the global stage and empower women. This is the start of a new beginning."

The Fashion Commission is one of 11 cultural bodies established by the Ministry of Culture to manage the Saudi cultural sector.