CCS Announces New Endowed Chair of Fashion Design

May 23, 2023

CCS Endowed Chair Aki Choklat

Aki Choklat, renowned international footwear and accessories designer and chair of CCS’ burgeoning Fashion Design program, is honored to be the College’s first endowed chair. 

In a move that ensures ongoing support of the College’s Fashion Design program and its chair position in perpetuity, the College for Creative Studies is thrilled to announce its first endowed chair position, the Linda Dresner Chair in Fashion Design.

Aki Choklat, founding chair of CCS’ rapidly expanding Fashion Design program and internationally recognized footwear designer, is honored to be given this distinction and confident that it will help propel the program globally.

“I’m very proud and absolutely humbled to be given this opportunity,” Choklat said. “My goal is to create an educational experience that I’ve always dreamed of; a learning environment where all is possible, creatively and technically; a dream world where craft, creativity and innovation exist in harmony. I want CCS to become the preeminent, globally recognized fashion education destination, and this endowed chair will help enable all of that.”

Choklat came to Detroit in 2018 as the founding chair of CCS’ new fashion program. “Detroit was always a mysterious place with a really cool cachet,” Choklat said. “I remember buying Techno!The New Dance Sound of Detroit sometime in the late ’80s — I think it was one of the first CDs I had. I always had Detroit on my mind, so when the call came, I was instantly interested to learn more about the opportunity. When I finally came to Detroit, I was totally blown away by CCS’ facilities. And when I was shown the department and saw that it was a blank canvas that I could have a profound impact on … I was sold.”

For decades, Choklat worked as a footwear designer out of London and Florence, leading his own international footwear brand, collaborating with other brands, and teaching at some of the world’s most influential fashion schools, including Polimoda, London College of Fashion and De Montfort University. He’s also the author of four design books, including Footwear Design, the industry-essential footwear design resource.

Since day one, Linda Dresner has been a fierce advocate of CCS’ Fashion program, serving on both the CCS Board of Trustees and the Fashion Design program’s advisory board, made up of several fashion industry luminaries. Dresner, a fashion icon herself, spent four decades in fashion running two influential, avant-garde boutiques, one on Park Avenue in New York City, the other in Birmingham, Michigan. She gets fashion, and she believes in both CCS’ Fashion Design program and in Choklat.

“We are grateful for Linda’s leadership and unwavering support; we are honored to establish this endowment in her name,” said Donald Tuski, Ph.D, President of College for Creative Studies.

Since its inception, the program has grown exponentially, expanding its academic offerings to fully support apparel and accessories, maintaining an advisory board of fashion industry heavyweights and hosting several sponsored studios with major fashion and accessory brands, including Carhartt, Eileen Fisher and Stuart Weitzman. Additionally, the department has celebrated the successful placement of its graduates at global fashion companies, including Coach, Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren, Tory Burch, Kate Spade, Nike and many more.

Choklat reflects, “I have a huge responsibility to keep the department moving forward, but I couldn’t do it without our incredible team of educators, staff and students. Our students and their outcomes are vital to the success of my position. Without them, we’re nothing! The opportunity to work with students in this space, and see their work and vision come to fruition, is one of my greatest joys, and I’m truly honored to serve as the department’s and greater College’s first endowed chair.”