Dr Susan Atkin

Senior Lecturer (Deputy Division Head - Fashion Design)

Dr Susan Atkin

Senior Lecturer (Deputy Division Head - Fashion Design)

Email: s.atkin@mmu.ac.uk

Telephone: 0161 247 3578

Upon graduating with a First Class Degree in 1999, I returned to Manchester and worked for both a music production company and art gallery-store, both based firmly in the Manchester creative independents scene. Using this experience of working in small businesses, I began my own label, Electricity, selling womenswear across the globe – from boutiques in the UK to department stores in Japan.

Setting up a showroom in 2005 aimed at independent boutiques in the north west led me into teaching as I found myself offering support and guidance in range planning, production and sales to the labels - which I loved doing. I began to teach on degree programmes in 2006, joining Manchester Metropolitan University in 2012, becoming Programme Leader for BA (Hons) Fashion from 2014 until 2022. I am now Deputy Division Head for Fashion Design.

I am interested in fashion's contribution to cultural identity; how what we wear and how we wear it can help us to both be distinct and make connections to movements, scenes and people. This informs my teaching practice, both from a design and more theoretical perpective and I enjoy working with students at both under and post graduate level.

Academic and professional qualifications

My PhD, awarded in 2016, considers the contribution of fashion to Manchester’s cultural identity. Questioning the loose fitting, baggy silhouette of the Mancunian music scene from 1986 - 1996, my research questions the key influences and influencers of the local fashion industry and their contribution to distinct local “looks”. It explores the links between the city’s music and club scene and local fashion culture with subculture, identity, bricolage, the concept of local fashion and the Manchester music scene key areas of the research.

I also have a Postgraduate Certificate in Education and graduated from the University of Derby with a first class degree in BA (hons) Fashion Studies.

Postgraduate research supervision

Sarah Collins (PhD), IDENTI-KIT: Co-designing the Football Shirt

Jayne Mechan (PhD), Reframing the Adult Female Torso; A ‘Phygital’ Interplay for Inclusivity through Embodied Fashion Practice.

Mor Schwartz (PhD), Critical-couture: how can the redefinition of prototypes in artisanal footwear inspire an alternative, sustainable fashion system?

Tiantian Sun (PhD), Chinese Style in Contemporary Fashion.

Gina Nadal Fernandez (PhD), 2023. Weaving with code: How can emotional experience be designed into digital jacquard textiles using code?

Harriet Litherland (M.Res) 2018. Knitting from the Landscape: What are the Interrelations between Maker, Material and Landscape?

External examiner roles

BA (hons) Fashion, Herriot Watt University: 2022 – present day

BA (hons) Fashion Design, Brighton University (Northbrook College): 2016 - 2020

BA (hons) Fashion Design, York St John University (York College): 2011 - 2015

BA (hons) and FdA Fashion Design and Technology (London College of Fashon): 2007 - 2011


A collaborative visual investigation into authenticity and Manchester's textile heritage with photographer Ollie Morris. Garments styled with scarves made in Manchester from locally sourced vintage tie silk, corduroy and wool woven in the North. Shot on location with Manchester Men in the old textile mills and warehouses of the city.



From November 2000 to April 2015 I ran Electricity, an independent womenswear label based in Manchester. Using natural materials such as wool, linen and cotton, I used surface pattern - print, embroidery and ruching - to create pieces that were a unique as the wearer. I sold to independent boutiques and dpeartment stores across the UK, Europe, The U.S. and Japan.



Research Interests

At the heart of my research lies the balance between distinction and belonging, and how what we wear and how we wear it enables us to both stand out and be part of something. Themes of everyday life and place, particularly the city of Manchester, underpin my research and I am also interested in subcultural and post-subcultural theory.

I would be happy to consider postgraduate supervision in these areas.

Academic collaborations

Locating Menswear
Locating Menswear is an AHRC funded international network investigating the cultural and industrial connections between London, Liverpool, Manchester, and Milan, Italy, and how they have influenced the production, display, and consumption of British menswear. Led by Professor Andrew Groves, Director of the Westminster Menswear Archive (PI) and Dr Jo Jenkinson (CI), I co-lead the Manchester part of the project.

Making Oral Histories of Dress

Working with Dr Alison Slater, we draw on our research experience, focussed on the geographical area around Manchester, England to consider ways to establish and nurture partnerships between the researcher/interviewer and their working-class participants. This research process creates shared insights into everyday dress practices during the time periods studied - 50 years apart - to give validity to working-class voices whose accounts may not otherwise be heard.


Slater, A., Atkin, S., Kealy-Morris, E., 2023. 'Memories of Dress: Recollections of Material Identities', Bloomsbury, London.

Office Location

Room G.06
Righton Building
Manchester Fashion Institute
Manchester Metropolitan University
Cavendish Street
Manchester M15 6BG