Sprouts blossom in Chinese hair thanks to new fashion trend

Another one for the book of inexplicable trends: Many in China have taken to wearing sunflowers, bean sprouts and mushrooms in their hair.

They won't need to water the plastic hair clips, but they are becoming more elaborate

What started with a plain-old bean sprout hair clip has bloomed into a whole bouquet of flower style in Asia. (tianen_grace/Instagram, yuaneverbright/Weibo)

Another one for the book of inexplicable trends: People in China have reportedly taken to wearing sunflowers, bean sprouts and mushrooms in their hair. 

They won't need to water them — they're plastic hair clips — but the artificial flora donning their heads has become increasingly elaborate. 

Back in August, numerous outlets reported the initial trend, which seemed to be focused around a simple bean sprout hair clip. The clip made in question made it appear as though a single stem and two leaves were blossoming up inconspicuously from beneath a person's hair. 

The Beijinger noted back in August that vendors selling the "pea shoot" fashion were littered across trendy Beijing neighbourhoods like Houhai and the 798 Art Zone.

CNN even saw them being sold in the ancient Nanlouguxiang district. 

The photo of the two wearing the trendy bean sprout hair clip was taken from Weibo, a Chinese Twitter competitor. (睡不醒的小石头_/Weibo)

On Instagram, the hashtag #豆芽, which roughly translates to bean sprout, shows many Chinese menwomen and cats accessorizing with the floral garb. 

As the trend continues to evolve, it appears as though the plain-old green shoot isn't enough for locals anymore. 

The New York Times reported that during the Oct. 1 National Day weekend, Beijing bloomed with a whole bouquet of hair accessories, including lavender, chillies, gourds and chrysanthemums.

Another photo captured from Weibo of a child wearing a gourd hair clip. (yuaneverbright/Weibo)

"This shows that in China now we'll try almost anything that we see on the Internet," Wang Hao told the Times. Hao is a student who was wearing a clover in his hair at the time of the interview. 

Despite its popularity, few people know the style's origins.

Speculation about its inspiration ranges from cute Japanese emoji with a sprout growing out of its head to ancient Chinese teachings about harmony with nature. 

A popular animated show, Pleasant Goat and the Big Bad Wolf, might be one source of inspiration according to The Shanghaiist. In a show about a village of goats that teams up with the Big Bad Wolf to fight their collective nemesis, bacteria, the character Slow Goat has a bean sprout growing beneath his wool. 

Slow Goat, seen in the upper right, is the elder of the goat village in the Chinese animated series Pleasant Goat and Big Bad Wolf, or 喜羊羊与灰太狼. (Toon Express Group/Wikipedia)

"I have no idea who initiated the trend," said Zhou Delai, a vendor who told CNN he sells 200 clips every three to four hours. "I stocked clips because so many people had wore them."

Delai said that the trend started in Beijing, though the Times mentioned that multiple sellers and wearers guess it came from Chengdu, a Chinese city known for being easygoing. 

In any case, the plant-hair craze seems to have been cemented in September by Jay Chou, a massively popular Taiwanese pop star and actor, and his wife, when they appeared in a photo wearing bean sprouts.

Regardless of where they came from or why, the common denominator between most of these hairpieces is that they're cheap and cute.

Six pieces cost about $3.20 on Amazon, and prices are even a bit lower with Chinese street vendors.

The appeal has spread beyond China, too. Korean Twitter users have posted quite a few pictures wearing the now-classic sprouts in recent months, as have Malaysians.

Korean pop stars in particular seem to have taken to the minute flowers, and their fans have made sure to note the new style. 

It probably won't take long for plastic vegetation to take root in hair on this side of the Pacific Ocean as well.


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?