Our founders

With extensive international experience of fashion education and the full fashion value chain from creative concept to retail, the founders of The Digital Fashion Group are leveraging their combined knowledge to rethink how we create, produce, market, sell, and use clothing, and how fashion professionals can drive this to redefine the industry.

Fashion is about the “New”, but behind it is an out-of-date system based on 19th century tailoring and manufacturing with an unsustainable environmental and social impact, while fashion education perpetuates a system developed in the 1940s, 50s and 60s. Both fail to adapt to changes in society and to the recent wave of new digital technologies delivering tools to reinvent every aspect of fashion education and the fashion cycle.

To lead the development of the digital mindset and digital strategies we focus our energy on identifying and amplifying the key digital technologies in the industry, in particular how creative talent engages with data during the design process, and how brands can adapt to Industrial Revolution 4.0.

We have a global, inclusive, flexible, hands-on approach delivered across our three core functions of Academy - Consult - Talent

Leslie Holden

Founder - Leslie Holden

Leslie Holden, as Head of Fashion at the Amsterdam Fashion Institute (AMFI) and a member of the amfi board for over 14 years, was responsible for the redevelopment of the international curricula focussing on digitalisation and sustainability in fashion. Instrumental in establishing the ground-breaking “Hypercraft” minor where students immerse themselves in the world of 3D Virtual designing, and the first AMFI Master award, MA Fashion Enterprise Creation, he grew the international recognition and standing of the school as a centre of excellence for fashion teaching and research.

Being a design director and entrepreneur with over 20 years’ experience in the fashion industry for such companies as Dunhill, Stefanel, Byblos, Burberry and Liberty, he has extensive knowledge of the international luxury market and the relationship of education to business.

Leslie sits on the Steering Committee of The EU Worth Partnership Project, and is an EU expert for the creative industries. He was for many years an Executive Board member of the International Foundation of Fashion Technology Institutes (IFFTI), and a trustee of The UK Graduate Fashion Foundation, and has been a guest speaker at many major education and creative conferences.

Leslie is a graduate of the Royal College of Art in London.

Burak Cakmak

Founder - Burak Cakmak

Burak Cakmak, as Dean of Fashion at Parsons School of Design where he completed his 5 year term in June 2020, led the implementation of a new innovative curriculum for fashion design and business programs. During this tenure, he leveraged his expertise in sustainable design to emphasise socially conscious and transformational design to formulate the educational approach and training of the next generation of creators. His experience includes directional roles at corporate and non-profit institutions including Swarovski Group, Gap Inc and Kering’s luxury brands.  Under his leadership, he oversaw implementation of best-practice industry standards across all business functions, including raw material sourcing, supply chain management, manufacturing, and retail operations.

He sits on the board of ‘Nest’, a non-profit organisation building a new handworker economy, and is on the expert panels for innovation focused initiatives the Global Change Award, Kering’s K-Generation Award and LVMH Prize. 

He has been invited to speak at a number of prominent, globally recognized conferences including the Copenhagen Fashion Summit, WebSummit and Fashion Asia Hong Kong. He has served on expert juries including the CFDA + Lexus Fashion* Initiative, and Open Style Lab and has lectured as a visiting professor at SKEMA Business School in France and China.

Sean Chiles

Founder - Sean Chiles

Sean Chiles, as Head of Northumbria University School of Design London, developed and delivered a unique Master Qualification Programme Framework for Fashion and the Creative Industries, along with Degree level fashion programmes for this international profit-making centre. He is an academic strategist experienced in innovative programme conceptualisation, validation and delivery, and an experienced lecturer, visiting professor, and External Examiner for MA and BA programmes in the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Italy, India and China. As a divisional board member of Coats Viyella PLC, he set up and directed the first contemporary brand design studio in India delivering an international design approach to ISO 9001 standards. He consults on executive and designer recruitment to deliver creative excellence and collections for studios around the world.

For the RSA Student Design Awards, he created the Fashion Promotions Section to represent changes in fashion education delivery, serving as a fashion judge for 13 years, for 7 years was a Marketing & Fashion judge for Graduate Fashion Week, and delivered a keynote speech “The Future of Fashion Education” at the Museum of London. Publication contributions include “Future in Progress” for the International Fashion Institute.

Sean is a graduate of St. Martin’s School of Art in London.

Our founders

With extensive international experience of fashion education and the full fashion value chain from creative concept to retail, the founders of The Digital Fashion Group are leveraging their combined knowledge to rethink how we create, produce, market, sell, and use clothing, and how fashion professionals can drive this to redefine the industry.

Fashion is about the “New”, but behind it is an out-of-date system based on 19th century tailoring and manufacturing with an unsustainable environmental and social impact, while fashion education perpetuates a system developed in the 1940s, 50s and 60s. Both fail to adapt to changes in society and to the recent wave of new digital technologies delivering tools to reinvent every aspect of fashion education and the fashion cycle.

To lead the development of the digital mindset and digital strategies we focus our energy on identifying and amplifying the key digital technologies in the industry, in particular how creative talent engages with data during the design process, and how brands can adapt to Industrial Revolution 4.0.

We have a global, inclusive, flexible, hands-on approach delivered across our three core functions of Academy - Consult - Talent


Leslie Holden

Founder - Leslie Holden

Leslie Holden, as Head of Fashion at the Amsterdam Fashion Institute (AMFI) and a member of the amfi board for over 14 years, was responsible for the redevelopment of the international curricula focussing on digitalisation and sustainability in fashion. Instrumental in establishing the ground-breaking “Hypercraft” minor where students immerse themselves in the world of 3D Virtual designing, and the first AMFI Master award, MA Fashion Enterprise Creation, he grew the international recognition and standing of the school as a centre of excellence for fashion teaching and research.

Being a design director and entrepreneur with over 20 years’ experience in the fashion industry for such companies as Dunhill, Stefanel, Byblos, Burberry and Liberty, he has extensive knowledge of the international luxury market and the relationship of education to business.

Leslie sits on the Steering Committee of The EU Worth Partnership Project, and is an EU expert for the creative industries. He was for many years an Executive Board member of the International Foundation of Fashion Technology Institutes (IFFTI), and a trustee of The UK Graduate Fashion Foundation, and has been a guest speaker at many major education and creative conferences.

Leslie is a graduate of the Royal College of Art in London.


Burak Cakmak

Founder - Burak Cakmak

Burak Cakmak, as Dean of Fashion at Parsons School of Design where he completed his 5 year term in June 2020, led the implementation of a new innovative curriculum for fashion design and business programs. During this tenure, he leveraged his expertise in sustainable design to emphasise socially conscious and transformational design to formulate the educational approach and training of the next generation of creators. His experience includes directional roles at corporate and non-profit institutions including Swarovski Group, Gap Inc and Kering’s luxury brands.  Under his leadership, he oversaw implementation of best-practice industry standards across all business functions, including raw material sourcing, supply chain management, manufacturing, and retail operations.

He sits on the board of ‘Nest’, a non-profit organisation building a new handworker economy, and is on the expert panels for innovation focused initiatives the Global Change Award, Kering’s K-Generation Award and LVMH Prize. 

He has been invited to speak at a number of prominent, globally recognized conferences including the Copenhagen Fashion Summit, WebSummit and Fashion Asia Hong Kong. He has served on expert juries including the CFDA + Lexus Fashion* Initiative, and Open Style Lab and has lectured as a visiting professor at SKEMA Business School in France and China.


Sean Chiles

Founder - Sean Chiles

Sean Chiles, as Head of Northumbria University School of Design London, developed and delivered a unique Master Qualification Programme Framework for Fashion and the Creative Industries, along with Degree level fashion programmes for this international profit-making centre. He is an academic strategist experienced in innovative programme conceptualisation, validation and delivery, and an experienced lecturer, visiting professor, and External Examiner for MA and BA programmes in the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Italy, India and China. As a divisional board member of Coats Viyella PLC, he set up and directed the first contemporary brand design studio in India delivering an international design approach to ISO 9001 standards. He consults on executive and designer recruitment to deliver creative excellence and collections for studios around the world.

For the RSA Student Design Awards, he created the Fashion Promotions Section to represent changes in fashion education delivery, serving as a fashion judge for 13 years, for 7 years was a Marketing & Fashion judge for Graduate Fashion Week, and delivered a keynote speech “The Future of Fashion Education” at the Museum of London. Publication contributions include “Future in Progress” for the International Fashion Institute.

Sean is a graduate of St. Martin’s School of Art in London.

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