Mal is an alumni of Edinburgh College of Art and The Royal College of Art, in London, where he won the BT Award for Outstanding Studies. After graduation, Mal worked in Italy as a designer for United Colours of Benetton, and then as a freelance designer. Returning to Edinburgh, he established the design label, MalandLeigh, a partnership specialising in fashion and interiors.
In addition to his role as Programme Director for Fashion at Edinburgh College of Art, Mal is a committee member for the British Fashion Council Colleges Council, and from 2014-2019, he was a Trustee of Graduate Fashion Week.
Mal also serves as an external examiner for a number of UK courses, and has worked for a number of institutions includige NCAD Dublin, The London College of Fashion, Arts University Bournemouth, UCA Epsom and Kingtson University.
Mal continues to be an active designer, believing that this is important to his teaching methods on the programme, and his work has been exhibited at significant international venues including; the Scottish National Portrait Gallery (Edinburgh), The International Centre for Lace and Fashion (Calais, France), The Bonnington Gallery (Nottingham), The Shanghai Museum of Textiles and Costume and Venice Design 2019.
He also directs The Edinburgh College of Art Diversity Network, uniting experts from academia, industry and charity sectors to discuss and improve fashion design through collaboration and public engagement.
In 2008, Mal became a full-time employee of Edinburgh College of Art, both lecturing students and developing the programme of Fashion. Since his appointment, the programme of Fashion has diversified its content to include knitwear, womenswear, menswear, surface design for clothing, computer fashion imaging, accessories and tailoring.
Mal has been strategic in developing diversity and sustainability as core to fashion courses on the programme. He is also the Course Organiser and main lecturer for 4th year students, leading them through the design and production of their graduate collections.
Mal has also been awarded the University of Edinburgh’s Best Feedback Award for the EUSA Teaching Awards in recognition of his approach to encouraging critical and positive feedback in constructive and motivating ways.
Students from the Fashion programme are renowned for their design abilities and continue to win a variety of leading design awards year upon year. In 2019 alone, Edinburgh College of Art students won the Graduate Fashion Week Christopher Bailey Collection of the Year award (both first place and runner-up), the GFW Womenswear Award, The Catwalk to Store Award, the Swarovski Conscious Design Award, the Hilary Alexander Trailblazer Award (first place and runner-up), and the David Band Textiles Award.
Mal is primarily a practice-based fashion design researcher who explores how he can use fashion design and display to create experiential and reflective debate around critical themes relating to body image and beauty. In a world in which eating disorders and other body image issues are widely reported, Mal seeks to explore how fashion, past and present, informs the ways in which we perceive our bodies, providing innovative discussion about this urgent and emotive issue.
Mal’s design work, ‘Beauty by Design: Fashioning the Renaissance’ (in collaboration with renowned lace manufacturer Sophie Hallette), has been exhibited at significant international venues, including; the Scottish National Portrait Gallery (Edinburgh), The International Centre for Lace and Fashion (Calais, France), The Bonnington Gallery (Nottingham), The Shanghai Museum of Textiles and Costume and Venice Design 2019. His exhibition work has been noted for informing critical public debate relating to diversity in fashion, visited by over 400,000 people to date.
Mal is also the Director of the Edinburgh College of Art Diversity Network, uniting experts from academia, industry and charity sectors to discuss and improve fashion design through collaboration and public engagement. This led to a major symposium at the National Museum of Scotland in 2018 funded by the Royal Society of Edinburgh, and which was notably supported by the British Fashion Council and the British Council.
The Network was a direct catalyst for the National Museum of Scotland to devise Body Beautiful: Diversity on the Catwalk; the world’s first exhibition on fashion and diversity, in 2019.