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Social Design Institute Meet the practitioner: Sandy Black

A composite image showing 4 fashion and knitting book covers
A composite image showing 4 fashion and knitting book covers
Books by Sandy Black
Written by
Cat Cooper
Published date
30 September 2021

Sandy Black is Professor of Fashion & Textile Design and Technology at the Centre for Sustainable Fashion (CSF) based at UAL's London College of Fashion. Sandy develops projects that integrate old and new technologies and champions new approaches to the design and creation of fashion-related products by connecting craft practices and advanced technology. She publishes on the intersections of fashion, textiles and knitwear design with emerging technology, science and sustainability, including pioneering texts on sustainable fashion

Sandy leads the Fostering Sustainable Practices research project at CSF, directly engaging with the UK’s design-led fashion community, renowned globally for its creativity and innovation.

Valuing Practice and Practitioners in Fashion Research

Reflecting on her own journey from knitwear designer-entrepreneur to leading academic researcher in fashion, textiles, design and technology, Sandy proposes that design-led, small and micro fashion businesses are leading the sustainable revolution and pioneering solutions that are transformative for fashion as a whole. Her Social Design Institute position paper Valuing Practice and Practitioners in Fashion Research (PDF 388KB) advocates for textile and fashion research within the field of design research, to both sustain and take forward learnings from this agile and innovative industry.

Many small and micro enterprises are pioneering new business models for fashion that champion design for sustainability, living and working by their ethical values to embrace social justice and equity, together with minimizing environmental impact. Clearly, these are not businesses solely driven by profit or shareholders, as they aim to reconcile environmental, social and economic sustainability whilst surviving and thriving, through their creative practice.

— Professor Sandy Black


Championing research and practice in social design and design for sustainability, UAL Social Design Institute develops and uses research insights to inform and change how designers and organisations design. Its mission is to make a positive social and environmental difference.

The Institute’s focus areas are value and valuation through design, systems and design, and policy contexts and implications. It works closely with colleagues across UAL including the Centre for Circular Design, Centre for Sustainable Fashion and Design Against Crime Research Centre.

The Social Design Institute is working with BOP Consulting to develop the methodology for the Design Council’s Design Economy 2021 and recently launched its online learning series, including Introduction to Social Design.

The Institute's Publications include a series of open position papers sharing diverse research perspectives from UAL practitioners on social and sustainable design; and working papers offering new research insights. The material reflects the wide scope of social and sustainable design across different contexts and subject areas at UAL -from fashion and textiles to cultural practices and crime prevention. To date there are 15 papers to date authored by 16 UAL academics, and more will continue to be added.

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