Sarah’s research and teaching focuses on East Asian material culture, gender and the body, with a special interest in fashion exchanges between China and Britain, and on fashion, race and cultural expression.
Sarah Cheang joined the RCA in September 2011. She has a special interest in the role of Chinese material culture within histories of Western fashionable dress and domestic interiors, a subject on which she has published widely and lectures frequently. Her co-edited collection, Hair: Styling, Culture and Fashion (2008), and continued research, artworks and publishing on hair, fashion and identity have also led to contributions to magazines, exhibitions, festivals, radio and television.
Sarah led the AHRC Network Project Fashion and Translation: Britain, Japan, China Korea (2014–2015), as well as convening events on global design and cultural translation. She co-edited a special edition of International Journal of Fashion Studies on East Asian fashion, and is preparing for publication a book entitled Sinophilia which is a new study of twentieth-century chinoiserie and fashion. She recently co-edited the collection Rethinking Fashion Globalisation (2021), and has co-authored a number of papers on decolonial approaches to teaching and researching in the art college.
As a founder member of the Research Collective for Decolonizing Fashion, Sarah works closely with a group of international scholars and activists who look to counter Eurocentricism in fashion studies and to push for equality, cultural sensitivity and more inclusive and caring world-views in the fashion industry. She is also a member of the advisory board for the Fashion and Race database. Sarah’s teaching interests reflect this commitment to more inclusive curricula and decolonial approaches. Recent research and teaching has focussed on concepts of decolonial aesthesis, through experimental teaching methods and the research-led initiative OPEN. Issues of gender, race and ethnicity are often uppermost in her work and she chaired the Design History Society Equalities Working group 2019-2020.
Sarah holds a BA in History of Design from Brighton University, an MA in Art History from Sussex University. She completed her DPhil at Sussex University in 2003. Her work on Western representations of China, and more particularly the collecting and consumption of Chinese material culture in Britain from 1890, has led to prize-winning publications on ceramics, textiles, interior design, and even Pekingese dogs. She also curated the twentieth-century section of the exhibition Chinese Whispers: Chinoiserie in Britain 1650–1930 (Brighton Museum and Royal Pavilion, 2008), which won best temporary exhibition at the Museum and Heritage Awards.