Professor Sandy Black
BiographyProfessor Sandy Black has extensive experience in both the fashion industry and academia. As designer and director of the Sandy Black Knitwear label, she sold inventive fashion knitwear to prestigious stores internationally, and developed the successful Sandy Black Original Knitting yarns and pattern kits. Sandy then entered higher education and directed undergraduate and postgraduate fashion and textiles programmes, first at University of Brighton then London College of Fashion, where she developed the innovative multi-disciplinary MA programme in Fashion Studies. She was the programmes first director until 2005, then focused on fashion research, starting the pioneering Interrogating Fashion inter-disciplinary research cluster. Sandy has conducted academic review for many institutions and for public bodies; in 2014 she was an assessment panel member for Art and Design: History, Theory, Practice in the UK Research Excellence Framework, and in 2016 a member of a the Creative Arts Panel for a the research assessment exercise for the New Zealand Tertiary Education Council..
Sandy publishes widely on fashion, textiles and knitwear design and their intersection with technology and sustainability. Her books include the co-edited volume The Handbook of Fashion Studies (Bloomsbury 2013 h/b, 2017 p/b); the internationally acclaimed The Sustainable Fashion Handbook (Thames and Hudson 2012, London and New York); the comprehensive historical monograph Knitting: Fashion, Industry, Craft (V&A Publishing 2012), based on extensive archival and contemporary research; and one of the pioneer texts on sustainable fashion Eco Chic: the Fashion Paradox (Black Dog Publishing 2008, 2nd ed. 2011 ). Sandy founded and co-edits the academic journal Fashion Practice: Design, Creative Process and the Fashion Industry (Routledge), published since 2009, giving a voice to the practitioner and integrating research, design practice and enterprise in fashion.
Sandy’s research focus is inter-disciplinary design-led research, within the context of sustainability. She develops projects that integrate old and new technologies and seeks new approaches to the design and creation of fashion-related products through the relationship between craft practices and advanced technology.
A key concept underpinning this research is the notion of Considerate Design, developed from the Interrogating Fashion Research Cluster in 2005: responsible design that takes into account the wider environmental, ethical, and social impact of products together with life cycle thinking, and the needs of individual users.
New contexts, new business models and increasing awareness of compelling environmental and social issues are stimulating new paradigms for fashion. As principal investigator of two EPSRC/AHRC funded projects, Interrogating Fashion and Considerate Design, both part of the inter-disciplinary research initiative ‘Designing for the 21st Century’, Sandy brought together fashion and textile designers, academics in engineering design, computing and material science, artists and researchers to discuss future ideas and changing paradigms for fashion in the 21st century. Following on from the Interrogating Fashion research cluster, Sandy led the inter-disciplinary Considerate Design project to assist designers in developing sustainable fashion products to ultimately reduce fashion consumption but increase consumer delight through personalisation enabled by technology and craft.
Recent research projects focus on the role of design and new business models in addressing sustainability issues in the fashion and textile sectors towards a more sustainable prosperity. Currently she is PI of the AHRC funded project Rethinking Fashion Design Entrepreneurship: Fostering Sustainable Practices, based in the Centre for Sustainable Fashion, in collaboration with Middlesex University and the Open University. This project focuses on design-led micro and small fashion businesses. Previous projects include the cross-UAL FIREup project, funded by the AHRC, a collaborative knowledge exchange project researching ways to connect academic research with the designer fashion sector to enhance innovation and help build sustainable businesses; and the Research Councils UK funded project What’s Digital about Fashion Design?
Through her numerous PhD graduates, Sandy has helped establish design-led research in fashion practice, integrating innovative practice and design-led methodologies with theoretical frameworks, in order to develop hybrid design researchers who can lead new thinking in a space that spans both practice and theory.
Sandy’s personal research continues in knitwear, utilising the potential of advanced technology for three-dimensional structures. Drawing on her background in both knitwear design and mathematics, her research explores new forms in the realisation of knitwear, using advanced technologies and design based on mathematical concepts of topology.