The Future of Saudi Arabia’s Fashion Scene is Looking Bright

Burak Cakmak is leading the way

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If you’ve been paying attention, you’ve probably noticed that Saudi Arabia’s fashion scene has been witnessing a creative uprising. With a growing fashion-conscious generation and a new wave of emerging designers, the Kingdom has a chance to become a key player in the global fashion industry.

And it looks like it’ll all come to a head soon. Turkish sustainability pioneer Burak Cakmak has been appointed CEO of Saudi Arabia’s Fashion Commission—one of the 11 bodies under the Kingdom’s Ministry of Culture. The move comes a few months after the roll out of the Fashion Incubation Program, a training initiative aimed at nurturing Saudi fashion enthusiasts and supporting local labels to establish themselves.

Following in the same steps, Cakmak will “lead the implementation of an ambitious strategy to build a robust fashion industry in Saudi Arabia” according to Arab News. He’s on a mission to support local fashion talents, professionals and entrepreneurs as well as develop the nation’s fashion sector by encouraging financial investment. 

And he’s looking to pour his two-decade long career expertise into it.

In 2008, Cakmak was appointed the first director of corporate sustainability for Kering, the luxury conglomerate behind brands like Gucci, Balenciaga and Saint Laurent. He then went on to become Swarovski’s first vice president of corporate responsibility. His latest venture was as the Dean of Fashion at the Parsons School of Design in New York. 

Needless to say, his career is a perfect manifestation of environmental, social and educational responsibility. Just what the Saudi fashion scene needs.

As it seems, Cakmak understands the challenges that young independent brands struggle with to establish themselves and develop an effective business model. Through his skills in fashion education, he is hoping to offer guidance and support to local projects at the grassroots level.

“One of my main focus areas is to identify opportunities for Saudi to create fashion solutions that are innovative, technology driven, sustainable and aligned with the expectations of the 21st century global consumer,” he tells Arab News.

Sustainability is also another one of his focuses. He will be working on the growth of local production and short supply chains to minimize the environmental impact of the industry in the Kingdom.

“As the Fashion Commission, we are keen to bring the latest tools for measuring and reporting on the sustainability impact to local brands and share knowledge on how to build more sustainable business models,” he adds.

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