Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures

School of Design


Mark Sumner

Lecturer in Sustainablity, Fashion and Retail

0113 343 3710

Clothworkers South, Room 2.11

BSc Hons, EngD, Man Sci Dip

Mark Sumner has joined the School of Design as a lecturer focussing on sustainability within the textile, clothing and fashion industry, having spent over 15 years working in retail for a major international retailer. His research interests are broad covering a diverse range of subject such as textile technology, innovation, sustainability and consumer behaviour. Mark also manages the School’s Year in Industry programme which offers undergraduates the opportunity to enhance their qualifications with valuable industrial experience.


Mark Sumner is a lecturer in sustainability, retail and fashion. He teaches sustainability to undergraduate and postgraduate students as well as supporting teaching in a number of other subjects such as marketing, innovation and technology.

His teaching and research is based on a blend of academic input and industrial experience; he worked in retail as a textile technologist and more recently as a Sustainability Specialist for one of the UK’s largest retailers. This experience is complimented by Mark’s active involvement in a number of industry, governmental and national forums as well as specialist support for various organisations via tailored consultancy.


Research Interests

Mark has a broad and diverse range of research interests. Core to the bulk of the research is the exploration of sustainability within the textile and clothing industry with a particular focus on how retailers and their supply networks interact in their pursuit of pleasing the consumer. The importance of understanding the consumer within the sustainability dialogue is growing and this is key aspect of research Mark is undertaking.

Aligned with the School’s mission to unite creativity, technology, innovation and enterprise Mark is exploring how technology and design can be combined to deliver ideas for a more sustainable industry, and he is actively engaged in developing a multidisciplinary network to support his research.

During his postgraduate studies for an Engineering Doctorate in Textile Engineering, Mark explored opportunities for ultra-low liquor ratios for dyeing yarn. During his career his interest in dyeing and finishing has grown and he continues to explore opportunities for research into the latest technologies for the industry.

The dissemination of the knowledge is an important aspect of Mark’s research and he has been involved in a number of innovative projects to help the industry and society in general gain a better understanding of the sustainability issues the fashion industry is facing. For example, Mark was the Technical Advisor for the World Shirt project which was recently performed at the Young Vic, London.



Mark teaches Sustainability to Level 1 students from all of the undergraduate programmes at the School of Design. He is also developing a Sustainability module for MA and MSc postgraduate students for 2015/16. He also contributes to other modules within the school including the Marketing, Creativity and Innovation Level 2 module.

Mark is also developing a new undergraduate degree programme for Fashion Technology. This programme will be live in 2016 and aims to create graduates who have the skills and knowledge to be successful technologists and product developers in the clothing and fashion industry through a blended learning experience built upon the core pillars of technology, design and sustainability.


Mark is the module manager for the Green Design and Sustainability and the Year in Industry module.

The Year in Industry module is the most successful placement programme at the University of Leeds. Over 100 students each year opt to enhance their CV and employability opportunities by taking the Year in Industry module and extending their degree to a 4 year BA Hons (Ind) degree.

There are over 200 host companies who support the placement programme who are based in wide range of locations including West Yorkshire, London, Europe, the USA, China and Australia.

Research Projects & Grants

Ignite Project: Retailer Round Table; 2014

Sasakawa Fund: Promoting Anglo-Japanese Collaboration; 2015

Research Centres & Groups

Mark is a member of the Textile Materials Technology Group.

External Appointments

Mark has been appointed to provide guidance, support and be an external reviewer of strategies, policies and projects for a number of UK and overseas clients.

Mark is the Chair of the Metrics Working Group for the Sustainable Clothing Action Plan (SCAP)

He also part of the Longevity consortium appointed by SCAP to explore opportunities for improving the longevity of clothing and fashion products.

PhD & Postdoctoral Supervision

Mark currently supervises a PhD student developing a new approach to recycling of textile waste, and a part time PhD student exploring sustainable design.

He will be involved in the supervision of a new PhD student later this year who will be researching consumption and the impact changes in this has on design.

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